Scrapping the 1992 Consensus Would Harm Everyone on Taiwan
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 9, 2011
Summary: What will the repercussions of the presidential election be in the event one or the other candidate is elected? The answer is crystal clear. If one or the other political party is elected, economic policy, specifically income redistribution, will not undergo any immediate and significant changes. Cross-Strait relations however, will face a major watershed. We will either continue promoting cross-Strait reconciliation and cooperation, as we have for the past several years. Or, we will clash head on with the Mainland and cross-Strait relations will suffer a major setback. Reality is staring us in the face. When voters make their decision, they must not ignore reality. They must not indulge in wishful thinking.
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What will the repercussions of the presidential election be in the event one or the other candidate is elected? The answer is crystal clear. If one or the other political party is elected, economic policy, specifically income redistribution, will not undergo any immediate and significant changes. Cross-Strait relations however, will face a major watershed. We will either continue promoting cross-Strait reconciliation and cooperation, as we have for the past several years. Or, we will clash head on with the Mainland and cross-Strait relations will suffer a major setback. Reality is staring us in the face. When voters make their decision, they must not ignore reality. They must not indulge in wishful thinking.
Every nation seeks to survive, prosper, and ensure that its citizens are treated with dignity. But merely wishing will not make it so. Every nation must adopt practical policies appropriate to its circumstances. We must understand our own situation before we can adopt the appropriate measures. Only then can we safeguard our nation's interests and promote our nation's prosperity.
President Ma Ying-jeou is seeking reelection. He and DPP presidential challenger Tsai Ing-wen, represent diametrically opposite cross-Strait policy paths. Ma Ying-jeou seeks continued reconciliation, exchanges, and cooperation; predicated upon the 1992 Consensus. Tsai Ing-wen refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus and any opposes any changes resulting from its recognition.
The public on Taiwan wants to survive, prosper, and be treated with dignity. This is an aspiration shared by all the people. Increasing national prosperity means their own lives will also get better and better. The public on Taiwan faces a stark reality. In terms of history, culture, geography, economy, trade, non-governmental exchanges, and even sovereignty disputes, Taiwan and the Mainland are inseparable. This was true in the past. This is true in the present. And this will be true in the future. Particularly given the Mainland's growing international political power and economic influence, When Republic of China citizens on Taiwan determine their national destiny, the Mainland will always remain a factor.
Ma Ying-jeou seeks cross-strait reconciliation, based on the 1992 consensus and the ROC Constitution. The two sides may differ in their interpretations of the 1992 Consensus. One side may speak of "one China, different interpretations." The other side may speak of "different interpretations of one China." One side may speak of the Peoples Republic of China. The other side may speak of the Republic of China, But what is truly important, what is truly relevant to people's well-being, is that both sides are willing to reach some sort of consensus. Both sides are willing to allow the other to express its position, Both sides are willing to set aside disputes over sovereignty which cannot be currently resolved, and instead actively promote exchanges to improve relations.
By contrast, Tsai Ing-wen has on the one hand painted a rosy scenario. She has promised that, if elected, she will build a "Taiwan consensus." She has promised to continue holding consultations with the other side. She has promised to continue promoting cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges, She has promised to continue improving cross-Strait relations. She has promised to avoid stagnation and backpedaling. On the other hand, Tsai Ing-wen has blasted Ma Ying-jeou for ahdering to the 1992 Consensus and to the other side's one China principle. She says "eventual reunification is the price we will have to pay." Her categorical repudiation of the 1992 Consensus tells us she would pull the basis for cross-Strait reconciliation from under our feet.
What would be the result? The Chen regime sealed Taiwan off from the Mainland for eight years. In the end, just how much did he promote our national interests, enhance our dignity, and bolster our sovereignty? The answer is still fresh in our memories. If Tsai Ing-wen has an alternative better than the 1992 Consensus we would of course welcome it. But so far we do not see how Tsai Ing-wen can abandon the 1992 Consensus and still persuade the Mainland to honor existing efforts at reconcilation.
Cross-Strait policy cannot be limited to building castles in the air, Everyone has pipe dreams, What matters is what is feasible in reality. When the Mainland authorities make decisions, they too must cope with internal pressures. If they mishandle the Taiwan issue, they could go down in infamy. By handling matters in accordance with the 1992 Consensus, the Mainland authorities can at least offer the Mainland public an accounting. But if the foundation for exchanges is demolished, it will undermine existing cooperation. It will mean a serious setback for the doves in the Chinese Communist Party. Achieving smooth cross-Strait relations has not been easy. One can only imagine how far they might be set back.
Recently, many entrepreneurs have expressed support for the 1992 Consensus and for cross-Strait peace, Nevertheless Tsai Ing-wen blasted Ma Ying-jeou, and accused him of chummying up to wealthy conglomerates. This was an attempt to incite class hatred, an attempt to distract the public from its concerns about the potentially catastrophic impact on cross-Strait relations. Entrepreneurs hope that Taiwan can continue to enjoy a peaceful and stable environment. They hope to enjoy greater opportunities for economic prosperity. How are their concerns any different from the general public's?
No one wants to relinquish national sovereignty. This determination is shared by everyone on Taiwan. But national sovereignty and the dignity enjoyed by a nation's citizens depend upon national strength. A weak and isolated nation will find survival and prosperity difficult to maintain, It will find it difficult to be treated with respect in the international community. Those at a disadvantage need greater wisdom, ingenuity, and courage than those in a position of strength. They cannot ignore reality. They cannot act blindly and rashly. The past three and a half years have offered countless opportunities for cross-Strait economic and trade exchanges and business opportunities. The Republic of China has achieved visa free travel status with over 100 different countries. The nation's survival, prosperity, and the dignity of its citizens have all been enhanced. Ma Ying-jeou's cross-Strait policy has proven effective and practicable in a real world context. Does Tsai Ing-wen really believe she can win over voters merely by painting the rosy scenarios described above, without bothering to offer a better alternative?