Tsai: We Want Taiwan Independence, Therefore We Refuse to Recognize the 1992 Consensus
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 8, 2011
Summary: Beijing considers refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus equivalent to advocating Taiwan independence. Taiwan independence advocates say that acceptance of the 1992 Consensus is treason against Taiwan independence. Tsai Ing-wen must chose one or the other. She cannot say that the two do not exist.
Full Text below:
Yesterday we asked, why does Ma Ying-jeou support the 1992 Consensus. Today we ask, why does Tsai Ing-wen oppose the 1992 Consensus?
Beijing has declared that refusing to recognize the 1992 Consensus is the same as advocating Taiwan independence. Beijing considers the 1992 Consensus the cornerstone of cross-Strait relations. If it is removed, then the superstructure of cross-Strait relations will collapse. Tsai Ing-wen refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus. She has in effect refused to recognize One China, Different Interpretations. She has not expressed opposition to Taiwan independence. Nevertheless she wants to maintain ECFA. She wants to maintain economic and trade relations with the Chinese mainland. Most of all. she wants to maintain peaceful development with the Chinese mainland.
Now, just before the presidential election, Tsai Ing-wen is pumping up the volume. She is full of bluff and bluster. But if she is elected president, Beijing will demand to know whether she still refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus. President Tsai will be in absolutely no position to thumb her nose at Beijing. At least not if she still wants peaceful development. So the question is, will President Tsai blink? If she does, the result will not just be a personal and political disaster for President Tsai. It will be a major political and economic disaster for everyone on Taiwan.
But Tsai Ing-wen has left herself an escape clause. So far, she has only said "The 1992 Consensus does not exist." But she has yet to touch upon the meaning of One China, Different Interpretations, and no immediate reunification, no independence, and no use of force. If she can stonewall until after the election, she can then say that what she meant was that the actual term "The 1992 Consensus" did not exist. She can qualify her position, and say that the "Spirit of '92" does exist, or that the "Tacit Agreement Reached during the 1992 Talks in Hong Kong" does exist. She can change her colors like a chameleon, without missing a beat. Chen Shui-bian used this gimmick as well. But if Tsai Ing-wen harbors such intentions, then she is too shallow and frightening for words. If she fails in her attempt to deceive voters, she will destroy whatever legitimacy her presidential term might have had.
If Tsai is elected president, Beijing is sure to hold peaceful development over her head. It will demand that she accept the 1992 Consensus. Tsai Ing-wen cannot afford to lose peaceful development with the Chinese mainland. In the end, she will have no choice. She will have to recognize the 1992 Consensus, or at least a variant. She will have to recognize One China, Different Interpretations. She will have to express opposition to Taiwan independence. This is inevitable. This is common sense.
Tsai Ing-wen's campaign committee has relentlessly floated rumors, alleging that after the election she will hold talks with Beijing. Years ago, Chen Shui-bian wanted Washington to dismiss his pronouncements as nothing more than election rhetoric. Years later, Tsai Ing-wen is hoping Beijing will do the same. But Tsai Ing-wen may have difficulty stonewalling until after the election. The focus of the debate is no longer whether the 1992 Consensus exists. Instead, Tsai is being asked directly whether she supports One China, Different Interpretations, and no immediate reunification, no independence, and no use of force. She is being asked directly whether she believes the Republic of China is a government in exile. She is being asked directly whether she supports Taiwan independence. She cannot revert to the Resolution on Taiwan's Future. But neither can she declare that the Taiwan Independence Party Platform and the Resolution for a Normal Nation are null and void. If she intends to fall back on the Resolution on Taiwan's Future, she may as well affirm the Constitution of the Republic of China, and its provision for One China, Different Interpretations.
Ultimately, Tsai will be forced to make a public declaration. Is she attempting to advance Taiwan independence by means of "backdoor listing?" Or does she truly intend to act as a President of the Republic of China? Does she truly intend to assume the privileges and responsibilities provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of China?
Tsai Ing-wen has a dilemma. She cannot say that she opposes Taiwan independence. But neither can she say that she advocates Taiwan independence. No matter what Tsai Ing-wen says, she cannot divest herself of the spectre of Lee Teng-hui, Chen Shui-bian and other Taiwan independence elements. She cannot change a simple fact. The DPP is political party whose gatherings include hundreds of thousands of people, but never a single Republic of China flag.
Tsai Ing-wen can say, "The 1992 Consensus does not exist." But she can not say, "The Constitution of the Republic of China does not exist." She cannot say that "The Republic of China Constitution and the welfare of the Republic of China do not exist." She cannot reject backdoor listing. Nor can she say that "Taiwan independence does not exist."
Set aside whether the 1992 Consensus exists. Ask instead whether Taiwan independence exists. Tsai Ing-wen can no longer evade the question. Does Taiwan independence exist? Shouldn't the question of whether Taiwan independence exists be taken seriously? Taiwan had two decades of bitter experience with Taiwan independence. Does Taiwan independence really "love Taiwan," or does it harm Taiwan?
Consider two statements quoted in the papers over the past few days. First, the Chairman of the Taiwan Solidarity Union called the Republic of China a ficttion, a "phantom." He called the Republic of China a walking zombie that lives off the flesh and blood of the Taiwanese people. Second, during a campaign speech on Saturday, Yu Shyi-kun, Chairman of Tsai Ing-wen's Campaign Committee, called the Republic of China a fiction. Tsai Ing-wen cannot say these statements do not represent her position. She cannot deny that her most important supporters are advocates of Taiwan independence. She cannot say that the "spirit" of Taiwan independence "does not exist.
Beijing considers refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus as equivalent to advocating Taiwan independence. Taiwan independence advocates say that acceptance of the 1992 Consensus is treason against Taiwan independence. Tsai Ing-wen must chose one or the other. She cannot say that the two do not exist.
The answer has emerged. Why does Tsai Ing-wen insist that the 1992 Consensus does not exist? Because she knows that Taiwan independence exists, and that she cannot escape the clutches of this "phantom."
2011.09.08 01:24 am