Taipei and Bejing Must Value Each Other's Goodwill
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 5, 2011
Summary: The DPP argues that cross-Strait relations are overly dependent upon Beijing's goodwill. Therefore, it argues, this makes the relationship too fragile and unreliable. But one might well turn around and ask, if cross-Strait relations must not be based on Beijing's goodwill, what should they be based upon? Mutual ill will? The presidential election in January next year will be a severe test of the two sides' ability to maintain good cross-Strait relations. Even goodwill may not be enough. But goodwill is not something that should be casually tossed aside.
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The DPP argues that cross-Strait relations are overly dependent upon Beijing's goodwill. Therefore, it argues, this makes the relationship too fragile and unreliable. But one might well turn around and ask, if cross-Strait relations must not be based on Beijing's goodwill, what should they be based upon? Mutual ill will?
In fact, no matter how cross-Strait relations evolve, mutual goodwill will alway be essential in any relationship. One day the two sides may even sign a peace agreement. Therefore, one must never look askance at another person's goodwill. Good will is essential, and should be assidously cultivated.
The two sides should work toward a number of goals. Abstract expressions of goodwill must become concrete expressions of goodwill. Trust must replace deceit. Momentary expressions of goodwill must become long-term expressions of goodwill. The two sides must allow time for solutions to present themselves. They must adopt a rational process. A rational process will lead to clearer solutions. But the common denominator throughout the process, must be goodwill.
Conversely, Beijing counts upon Taipei's goodwill. The Lee Teng-hui era National Unification Guidelines and the Chen Shui-bian era Five Noes were ostensibly expressions of goodwill. But Beijing failed to express goodwill when it refused to acknowledge the existence of the Republic of China. Lee and Chen failed to express goodwill when it promoted "creeping independence," right under Beijing's nose. In sum, two decades of failed cross-Strait relations can be chalked up to a lack of goodwill on boths sides.
A favorable political development in 2008 allowed cross-Strait goodwill to be based on the 1992 consensus, on One China, Different Interpretations, and on "no [immediate] reunification, no independence, no use of force." This allowed peaceful development. Taipei promised no de jure Taiwan independence. In exchange, Beijing lowered the decibel level and "increased the peace." By promising no Taiwan independence, Taipei expressed goodwill. In exchange, Beijing agreed to no [immediate] reunification and no use of force. The 1992 consensus and One China, Different Interpretations. have promoted goodwill, by enabling the two sides to seek common ground under the One China Principle. cross-Strait relations can now evolve on the basis of peace and democracy. A rational process has facilitated the search for clearer solutions.
Today's cross-Strait opportunities were hard-won. The KMT lost the presidential elections in 2000 and 2004. During its eight years in office, the Chen regime exhausted all vestiges of goodwill between Taipei and Beijing. These setbacks however, made possible the 2005 Lien/Hu Summit, and the peaceful development of cross-Stait coopetition. From beginning to end, Lien Chan took the high road. He and Hu Jintao change the course of history with their boldness of vision. They laid the foundation for cross-Strait goodwill. According to Tsai Ing-wen, Ma Ying-jeou has "quiet strength," and Hu Jintao is a "rational person." Beginning In 2008, the two sides implemented peaceful development. Goodwill was no longer empty rhetoric. Fifteen agreements, including ECFA, heralded the advent of explicit and institutionalized goodwill.
Goodwill is not a hollow shell. It is the basis of cross-Strait relations. On the Taipei side, both Lee and Chen promoted creeping independence during their time in office. This showed that not everyone who assumes office will evince goodwill. For Beijing and Washington, Lee and Chen were "troublemakers." For the Republic of China, the two evinced no goodwill whatsoever. Instead, they plotted to "rectify the name of the nation, and author a new constitution." On the Beijing side, not every ruler in Beijing is willing to engage in peaceful development. For Beijing, the cost of peaceful development may be higher than the cost of allowing Taiwan to destroy itself from within. Therefore today's cross-Strait goodwill, is not something we can take for granted, It was won at high cost, after hard lessons and repeated failures. The two sides must realize this and cherish whatever goodwill exists.
Today's cross-Strait goodwill is based on the two sides' overlapping strategic interests. Therefore, the objective must be to maintain these conditions long-term. Beijing's strategic objective is to prevent de jure Taiwan independence and to facilitate reunification. Short of using armed force to swallow up Taipei, Beijing must resort to peaceful and democratic means. It must persuade the public on Taiwan to accept the concept and framework of "China," in their hearts and minds. It must do so by demonstrating genuine goodwill long term. Conversely, unless Taipei is determined to declare independence, to found a "Nation of Taiwan," and to break with the Chinese mainland, its most sensible strategic objective is "no [immediate] reunification, no independence, and no use of force." It must defend the Republic of China. It can delay and reduce the pressure for reunification. It can ensure that cross-Strait relations remain peaceful and democratic. It must adopt a rational process in order to facilitate the search for clearer solutions. Therefore, why not maintain this goodwill?
The diplomatic truce was made possible by cross-Strait goodwill. Visa-free treatment by 117 countries was made possible by cross-Strait goodwill. ECFA was made possible by cross-Strait goodwill. Mutual legal assistance was made possible by cross-Strait goodwill. The Free and Independent Travel Policy for Mainland tourists was made possible by cross-Strait goodwill. cross-Strait goodwill is not assured. But we can hardly negate these achievements merely because cross-Strait goodwill is not assured. On the contrary, we must use these achievements to encourage and strengthen cross-Strait goodwill. The two sides have been separated for 62 years. The first 59 years were a failure, because ill will prevailed over goodwill. The last three years of peace and democracy are the manifestation of goodwill. They are the resut of one's vision transcending one's limitations. They are the result of rational thinking leading to clearer solutions.
The presidential election in January next year will be a severe test of the two sides' ability to maintain good cross-Strait relations. Even goodwill may not be enough. But goodwill is not something that should be casually tossed aside.