We Offer These Words on the Ma Xi Meeting
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 19, 2014
Summary: The possibility of outside interference with the development of
cross-Strait peace has gradually diminished, Risks to the big picture
remain. But a Ma Xi Meeting is now up to Beijing. Can the Chinese
mainland maintain firmness in principle, without forgetting the need for
flexibility, creative thinking, and groundbreaking approaches? It must
seize an historic opportunity to ensure cross-Strait peace and
rejuvenate the Chinese nation. It must not quibble over short-term
political gains and losses. Can Ma and Xi use the APEC meeting to
meet? It all depends on Mr. Xi. The window of opportunity may be small.
But we remain cautiously optimistic.
Full Text Below:
The Mainland recently sent emissaries to Taiwan to deliver invitations to this year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Meeting. Where the two sides will meet and who the participants will be have all been carefully planned in advance. The Mainland side will be represented by Taiwan Affairs Office Deputy Director Gong Qinggai. Our side chose the Taipei Guest House. MAC and Foreign Ministry heads will be in attendance. This shows by implication that the relationship between the two sides is neither a state to state relationship, nor a purely internal matter. It is consistent with dignity and equality, and highlights the special relationship between the two sides. It is obviously a compromise, but one acceptable to both sides. It is completely different from the 2001 Shanghai APEC Leaders' Meeting, when an invitation was sent via fax machine. The two sides now understand each other. Their flexibility in dealing with the matter deserves affirmation. We believe it will help the two sides deal with matters pertaining to foreign affairs and mutual trust.
The Taiwan side later engaged in careful internal evaluation and consideration. Since the Chinese Communist Party did not reject outright President Ma attending the Economic Leaders Meeting as an economic leader, there may still be hope for a Ma Xi meeting at APEC in Beijing this year. People from all quarters are making an effort. They are making a last ditch attempt to ensure that it takes place. They include experts regarded as emissaries for the government, the pro-blue media, and even scholars who have never dabbled cross-Strait relations. For several days, a large number of articles were published. They urged the Beijing authorities to adopt a more elevated and strategic perspective, to seize a rare and historic opportunity to advance the two sides' common interests. President Ma Ying-jeou should agree to the meeting and meet with Xi Jinping. Beijing has deliberately released this information to Taipei. It clearly has a clear understanding of what it means.
From the past to the present, the Mainland's response to Ma Ying-jeou attending the APEC Leaders' Conference has been consistent. It will abide by APEC precedents. Beijing does not oppose a Ma Xi Meeting. It merely wishes to stipulate certain conditions. It has pointed out that if the two sides meet in a third country, that should not be construed as an international arena. It has also made clear its bottom line concerns. Our side knows that different people on the Mainland hold different ideas about a Ma Xi Meeting. Some value the historical role of a leaders meeting. They advocate throwing the doors wide open, and making an historic breakthrough. Others advocate gradualism. They think steadiness is preferable to impatience. They think haste could make waste. Still others think this is all a political game. Therefore Taiwan must be pressured to make concrete concessions. Others have suggested that the United States is not happy to see a significant and rapid improvement in cross-Strait relations, and may attempt to undermine it. In short, there is no consensus.
A Ma Xi Meeting is of course no trivial matter. Observers generally consider it more symbolic than real in significance. But the symbolic significance itself would have a significant impact. Since the meaning is largely symbolic, the possibility of success is greater. As long as both sides have a tacit understanding, as long as two people can meet, that will be a great achievement. How they meet and when they meet can be further discussed. Peace has become a common value for compatriots and authorities on both sides. An end to hostilities has become a reality. All that remains is to make the correct legal representations and reasonable and proper arrangements. We should do the easy before the difficult, and the simple before the complex. First publish the KMT Peace Declaration, then gradually proceed from there. Who can object to political dialogue and political consultation, paving the way for political negotiations?
Some may have doubts about the preceding claims. Is peace a process or a goal? People may have different views. Some think that peace is a means, and reunification is the ultimate goal. If peaceful national reunification cannot be achieved, Beijing will change its methods. But others believe that peace is a goal in itself, and a kind of value, one we must work hard to maintain. To be fair, peace is both a goal and a method. As we can see, the concept of national sovereignty is becoming diluted. One example is the independence referendum for Scotland. Authorities on both sides have much to reflect upon. The international community is of course interested in a Ma Xi Meeting. But the United States has made clear that whether Ma and Xi meet is a matter between the two sides. The American position remains to encourage dialogue and reduce tensions, step by step. America cares only about whether it understands what is going on, and is not kept in the dark. Apparently the U.S. will not interfere with or oppose any Ma Xi Meeting.
The possibility of outside interference with the development of cross-Strait peace has gradually diminished, Risks to the big picture remain. But a Ma Xi Meeting is now up to Beijing. Can the Chinese mainland maintain firmness in principle, without forgetting the need for flexibility, creative thinking, and groundbreaking approaches? It must seize an historic opportunity to ensure cross-Strait peace and rejuvenate the Chinese nation. It must not quibble over short-term political gains and losses.
Can Ma and Xi use the APEC meeting to meet? It all depends on Mr. Xi. The window of opportunity may be small. But we remain cautiously optimistic. And for that we offer the above commentary.