New Year's Wishes: Consolidate Our Constitutional Rule, Bolster Our International Standing
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
January 1, 2012
Summary: If President Ma is seeking an historical legacy, he must establish it during the next three years. He must lay the foundation for the consolidation of our nation's constitutional rule and the bolstering of our nation's international standing. If the DPP wishes to return to power, it must assume the heavy responsibility of consolidating our constitutional rule and bolstering our international standing.
Full Text below:
Today is New Year's Day, in the 102nd Year of the Republic of China. Today is the 102nd anniversary of our nation's founding. Our wishes for the New Year are to consolidate our nation's constitutional rule, and to bolster our nation's international standing.
Dramatic changes are taking place around the world, in the Taiwan Straits, and on Taiwan. We must consolidate our nation's constitutional rule, and bolster our nation's international standing. We must do this to ensure the survival of the Republic of China. To consolidate our nation's constitutional rule means more than increasing allegiance towards the Republic of China and the Republic of China Constitution. It also means raising the quality of our democracy and its constitutional rule. An effort must be made within the one China framework. We must find a place for the Republic of China within the cross-Strait framework. To bolster our international standing, we must transform Taiwan into a free and open Asian-Pacific economic and trade platform. We must use multilateral world trade and economic ties to bolster the Republic of China's international standing.
The two goals are complementary. If the Republic of China consolidates its system of constitutional rule, both internally and within the cross-Strait framework, it will also bolster its international economic and trade relations. Conversely, free and open international trade and economic relations will help consolidate the Republic of China's system of constitutional rule, both on Taiwan and within the cross-Strait framework.
Let us first address the consolidation of constitutional rule. Constitutional rule in the Republic of China has undergone many shocks over the years, both on Taiwan and within the cross-Strait framework. On Taiwan, DPP leader Frank Hsieh has set forth his "constitutional consensus" and "different constitutional interpretations." On the Mainland, CCP leaders are talking about "using the two sides' existing legal provisions, (i.e., constitutions), as a point of departure." Hu Jintao even said, "We affirm (that both the Mainland and Taiwan are part of one China). This reality is consistent with both sides' existing legal provisions. It is something both sides can accept." This thinking shows that people on Taiwan are not the only ones who realize that "Without the Republic of China, Taiwan's survival cannot be assured." Even Beijing realizes that the "Republic of China's existing legal provisions," i.e., its one China Constitution, is the pillar that supports one China and cross-Strait peaceful development. That is also this newspaper's glass theory. "The Republic of China is a glass, Taiwan is the water. As long as the glass remains intact, the water remains in the glass. Once the glass is shattered, the water runs off everywhere."
In other words, consolidation of constitutional rule for the Republic of China accords not just with the interests of the public on Taiwan. It also ensures that constitutional rule for the Republic of China survives. As Beijing puts it, "using the two sides' existing legal provisions (i.e., constitutions), as a point of departure." It is also the only way to champion "one China." Therefore it also accords with both sides' interests. Consider the facts. In recent years, Beijing has invested a great deal of effort into Taiwan. Beijing has undeniably been upholding the Republic of China's one China constitution. It has been preventing Taiwan from embarking on the "rectification of names" and undermining the constitution. Put simply, the two sides have a common interest in consolidating the Republic of China's constitutional rule. .
How should these common interests be maintained? Beijing's cross-Strait policy used to be a rigid "Only reunification will do." Now however, its policy has morphed into "exploring cross-Strait political relations under special circumstances in which the nation has yet to be reunified." The two sides should "take existing legal provisions (their constitutions) as a point of departure" in order to sign a peace agreement. This would stabilize "political relations under special circumstances in which the nation has yet to be reunified." The aforementioned common interests would be protected. This is what this newspaper proposed, the signing of a peace agreement under the big roof theory of China.
For the public on Taiwan, consolidating the Republic of China's constitutional rule is not merely something people on Taiwan must strive for. It is also something that both sides of the Taiwan Strait should strive for. For Beijing, this requires an even broader vision. It requires incorporating the big roof theory of China into the one China principle.
Now consider the issue of bolstering our nation's international standing. Consider the global picture, cross-Strait trends, and Taiwan's dilemma. Taiwan's development will probably proceed from ECFA to a free trade zone pilot program, to TIFA, to FTAs, to TPP or RCEP, and finally to a Free Trade Island. But this is no easy path. One. This path will be a major test of Taiwan's internal perseverance and external competitiveness. Two. This path requires adequate cross-Strait goodwill and mutual trust. Beijing must not hobble Taiwan. It must be eager to see it succeed.
This is the path the public on Taiwan must take. It is the only way out for the public on Taiwan. It is not merely the way out for Taiwan's economy. It is also the way to bring cross-strait relations into balance, and to establish international political and economic links.
For Taiwan international trade is inextricably linked with cross-Strait relations. Taiwan independence is no longer possible. The Republic of China must seek a foothold for itself within the one China framework. Taiwan's international trade and economic relations must be conducted within the constitutional framework of the Republic of China. On Taiwan, the public must agree on a national identity and swear allegiance to the same constitution. Otherwise it will be impossible to establish enough cross-Strait goodwill and mutual trust. It will not be easy to fling Taiwan's doors open to international markets. Even if we manage to do so, it may be difficult to keep them open. Beijing's focus is on "political relations under special conditions in which the two sides of the Strait have yet to be reunified." Beijing must consider Taiwan's international political and economic breathing space. Politically Beijing must allow the Republic of China to be accepted as part of China. Taiwanese must be willing to define themselves as Chinese. Interfering with Taiwan's integration into the international economic and trade framework would be counterproductive.
The Republic of China's blueprint for international trade and economic relations requires Mainland support. The Republic of China must insist that it is a "Republic," of "China." Since it is China, therefore it must not pursue independence as Taiwan. Since it is a "republic," therefore it must implement freedom and democracy. Beijing will have no reason to forcibly occupy Taiwan. In other words, reunification will not be easy. Instead, the two sides must behave pragmatically and "maintain political relations under special conditions in which the two sides have yet to be reunified." So-called political relations requires a peace agreement under the big roof theory of China. This would reduce internal friction from Taiwan independence. This would reduce pressure on Beijing to reunify. This would reduce pressures towards reunification and independence. Each side would concentrate on its own internal and external governance. If this can be achieved, the Republic of China can engage in international trade within the framework of cross-Strait political relations.
If President Ma is seeking an historical legacy, he must establish it during the next three years. He must lay the foundation for the consolidation of our nation's constitutional rule and the bolstering of our nation's international standing. If the DPP wishes to return to power, it must assume the heavy responsibility of consolidating our constitutional rule and bolstering our international standing. Citizens of the Republic of China must make the ruling and opposition parties return to these two issues: consolidating our constitutional rule, and bolstering our international standing. This is the only way out for the Republic of China.