Cross-Strait Exchanges: Take Off the White Gloves
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 16 2012
Summary: This is a critical moment. Both sides must act. They must begin by setting up cultural and economic offices. Both sides must consider removing their "white gloves." At the very least, they must replace them with disposable gloves. Both sides must set up cultural and economic offices. They must establish links based on the two sides' existing legal systems. This is an urgent task. We must not squander this precious opportunity.
Full Text below:
Yesterday ARATS chairman Chen Yunlin said, "I hope we can begin talks on the establishment of cultural and economic offices, and establish them within the year." Chen's remarks show that the cultural and economic offices will use the same names as the two cross-Strait committees. They will remain "white gloves," i.e., intermediaries, and the goal will still be to establish them within the year.
Given the progress in cross-Strait relations, we should consider removing the white gloves from the cultural and economic offices. Establishing the cultural and economic offices could be the cross-Strait issue with the most creative potential heading into 2016. It offers the two sides much to ponder and discuss. We must ensure maximum synergy. We need not turn it into a rush job. The establishment of the offices should enable us to break through existing cross-Strait bottlenecks. Otherwise they can be temporarily shelved, rather than be allowed to undermine the entire undertaking.
Her are our recommendations. Beijing is looking into the establishment of cultural and economic offices. It is probably taking its cue from the 18th National Congress Political Report. It read, "Look into cross-Strait political relations under special conditions in which the two sides have yet to be reunified. Make reasonable arrangements." The Ma administration can base its thinking on the amended Constitution of the Republic of China. The preface calls for "thinking about how to respond to the nation's needs prior to reunification." The establishment of the two cultural and economic offices should be consistent with the following four conditions: One. The nation has yet to be reunified. Two. The nation faces special conditions. Three. The two sides of the Strait have a political relationship. Four. The two sides must make reasonable arrangements.
The "Cross-Strait Peace Agreement" could have dealt with this problem. We could have signed a peace agreement to reaffirm the aforementioned four conditions. We could have established offices predicated upon these four conditions. But the peace agreement ran aground. Therefore, we must consider first setting up cultural and economic offices. We must then ensure that the cultural and economic offices are consistent with the four conditions. The agreement to establish cultural and economic offices is a stand-in for a peace agreement.
As we see it, The most reasonable solution is the "big roof concept of China." This is consistent with the four conditions for cross-Strait relations. There is only one China in the world. The Republic of China is democratic China. The People's Republic of China is socialist China. Both are part of China. Both are part of a single China whose sovereignty they share. Together they comprise one China. The two sides should establish cultural and economic offices under the big roof China concept. The big roof China concept acknowledges the ROC. The ROC recognizes the big roof China concept. It is consistent with the new four conditions for cross-Strait relations.
After years of agitation and conflict, the two sides understand that reunification is no easy matter. Therefore a long process must precede reunification. This process will transform goal-oriented policies into process-oriented policies. This transformation will enable us to extend, improve, and enhance our goals. This transformation will enable us to prolong and slow the process. This transformation is consistent with the common interests of both sides.
We initially hoped the peace agreement could materialize and take effect. But the peace agreement is currently infeasible. Therefore we must consider an alternative, an agreement to establish cultural and economic offices in pursuit of the same goal.
Therefore we must consider removing the white gloves from the cultural and economic offices. Beijing has repeatedly referred to "using the two sides' existing provisions as a point of departure." Beijing is of course referring to the two sides' legal provisions, including their constitutions and laws. This constitutes "seeking common ground regarding one China, while shelving differences regarding the political content." Therefore these arguments should be rendered into text. They should be incorporated into the negotiations over the establishment of cultural and economic offices. They will help define their roles. Take the two sides' existing legal systems as our point of departure. Seek common ground while shelving differences. Acknowledge the special circumstances the two sides find themselves in. Do this, and the two sides' will no longer need white gloves. They can acknowledge that political relations between the two sides is a special case.
In fact cross-Strait exchanges and the status quo make it difficult to distinguish the hand from the glove. Beijing's State Council Taiwan Affairs Office and ARATS are a case of "the same staff, with two different door signs." A future cultural and economic office would be a case of "the same staff, with three different door signs." Why the unnecessary redundancy? Why the self-deception?
Are cross-Strait relations rooted in "the two sides' existing legal systems?" If they are, they should be reflected in the status of the two sides' cultural and economic offices. They should be consistent with the two sides' existing legal systems." This will enable the two sides to cope with cross-Strait relations under "exceptional circumstances." This will enable them to set up cultural and economic offices on both sides.
Even if this cannot be achieved, the same staff, with two or three different door signs, remains a reality. It is clearly laid out in the provisions of the agreement. For example, it clearly states that "Based on the two sides' existing legal systems, authorities on both sides will assume their appropriate roles and participate in the operations of the cultural and economic offices." Terms such as "respective legal systems, " "authorities," and "officials" are contained in the text of the agreement. The hand within the glove is visible. This shows that the two sides respect each others' existing legal systems.
The two sides are at an impasse. Beijing wants Taipei to uphold its "one China constitution." But it refuses to recognize the Republic of China's existing legal system. The ROC's "one China constitution" gets no respect from either side. The political situation on Taiwan is unstable. The two sides know they will not be reunified for some time. Without the "big roof China concept" as a framework for "special cross-Strait political relations" how can the two sides ensure "peaceful development?"
In 2012, the threshold for cross-strait relations was ECFA. The Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party crossed the threshold. Now the Democratic Progressive Party has "unconditionally accepted" it as well. We hope that in 2016, the two sides can sign a cross-Strait agreement based on the two sides' existing legal systems. The agreement would be fully consistent with the four conditions required for the new relationship. We hope the agreement will become a new threshold for cross-Strait relations. We hope the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party can cross it. We hope the DPP can as well.
The issue for 2012 was whether to rescind ECFA. The issue for 2016 is whether to eliminate the two sides' economic and cultural Offices.
This is a critical moment. Both sides must act. They must begin by setting up cultural and economic offices. Both sides must consider removing the white gloves. At the very least, they must replace them with disposable gloves. Both sides must set up cultural and economic offices. They must establish links based on the two sides' existing legal systems. This is an urgent task. We must not squander this precious opportunity.
2013.01.16 03:42 am