“The Righteous and Rogues Cannot Coexist” Era is Long Past
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 9, 2016
Executive Summary: Tsai Ing-wen needs to understand the importance of such a strategy of ambiguity. She must not act rashly merely to appease homegrown fanatics. This incident confirms that in the long run, there is simply no way around the one China principle. Every attempt to get around it will precipitate a crisis. Tsai may as well come right out and say it: “Cross-Strait relations are not international relations”. This is especially important at the WHA, which honors the relevant United Nations resolutions. Such an action would enable other governments to understand that the ROC enjoys autonomy. It would address Beijing's concerns, and also obtain additional breathing space for ourselves. What the public least wants to see, is the “The righteous and rogues cannot coexist” rhetoric that accompanied our departure from the United Nations decades ago. The DPP government must have the wisdom and eloquence to moderate passions within its own party.
Full Text Below:
This year the World Health Organization invited the ROC to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA) under the name "Chinese Taipei". But for the first time, the invitation underscored UN Resolution 2758 and the "one China principle". This means that during the next four years, Beijing intends to make the one China principle a precondition for official relations with the DPP government. Will the DPP accept this even more rigorous "one China, different interpretations" framework? Everyone is waiting to see.
Soon to be Executive Yuan Spokesman Tong Cheng-yuan's response showed that the DPP did not expect Beijing to move so quickly. As a result it was caught off guard. All it could do was to appeal to the public to "remain non-partisan, and together defend Taiwan's rights". The future government's responses so far have been fairly sober. But the hawkish responses from green camp media and green camp opinion leaders is worrisome, and could undermine the future government's decision-making process.
The DPP's cross-Strait political stance has long included two premises. Premise One. The "1992 Consensus" means that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China. That “one China” is the People's Republic of China. Therefore the DPP rejects the 1992 Consensus. Premise Two. Taiwan is an independent and sovereign state. Its current name is the Republic of China. The Republic of China is not China, but Taiwan. This means that the DPP rejects the one China principle, and has no response to UN resolution 2758. Beijing's citation of UN Resolution 2758 and the one China principle as preconditions for participation in the WHA run directly counter to the DPP's core premises.
Tsai Ing-wen and the DPP government have two options. Option One. Participate, but protest. It can hold up protest signs from its seats. It can attach “Taiwan” labels to their desk name plates. It can address the General Assembly or hold press conferences outside the venue. It can declare that as the delegation from Taiwan , it has nothing to do with China. Back home, it can play the victim card, and complain about Mainland oppression against Taiwan. Option Two. Refuse to attend the WHA, reject the Mainland's version of the one China principle, and proclaim that “The righteous and rogues cannot coexist”.
The government on Taiwan has repeatedly voiced its objection to Beijing's version of the "one China principle" before Beijing and the international community. Almost every time it participated in the annual ADB meeting, it has protested our member name and called on the ADB to remember that the ROC was a founding member. The ROC government also opposes international organizations referring to us as "China Taipei". It only accepts the name "Chinese Taipei". When the KMT was in power, the ROC government did not object to the "one China principle". It adhered to "one China, different interpretations", and insisted that the People's Republic of China is not synonymous with “China”. According to the ROC government, "one China” refers to the “Republic of China”. During DPP rule, the government has operated on the basis of “one nation on each side”. The DPP government rejects any and all connections with "China".
Will the Tsai Ing-wen government cling to past DPP thinking? Will it reenact the same song and dance at this year's WHA? Such antics are certain to backfire. They will only prove to Beijing that Tsai Ing-wen is determined to destroy the status quo, especially on the international stage. Beijing will then find it easier to persuade the world to accept its view. If Taiwan and the Mainland clash on the international stage, Taiwan will gain nothing. Given Mainland influence, many of its diplomatic allies will declare their support for the one China principle, and assert that Taiwan is part of the PRC, inflicting even greater harm upon Taiwan.
The DPP government cannot expect the United States, Japan and European Union countries to speak up for Taiwan. This time the United States and the European Union responded to appeals from our MOFA and expressed concern. But that does not mean they are willing to tolerate Taiwan creating discord during the meeting. In particular Washington, along with Beijing, are to some extent engaged in “adult supervision” over Taiwan. Washington has long stressed its hope that Taiwan can enjoy "meaningful" participation in international activities. Meaningful means more substantive participation in discussions of concrete issues. It does not mean manufacturing disputes over names and political issues. Washington has its own take on the one China principle. It rejects Beijing's definition. But it has no desire to see Taipei break out of the one China framework. Still less does it want Taipei promoting ideas different from the one China principle on the international stage.
For the DPP government, the most rational choice is to attend the conference. Any protests should focus on the issue of political interference. Protests should oppose the politicization of professional issues. Protests must not challenge the one China principle itself. Still less should they repudiate the one China principle. As long as Taipei does not proclaim “one China, one Taiwan”, and is willing to participate on the same basis as the past eight years, Beijing will not adopt tough measures in response. If Taipei's protestations are measured, and do not disrupt the proceedings of the General Assembly, other governments will not regard Taiwan as a "troublemaker". Taipei will be allowed to participate and receive the maximum benefits.
Tsai Ing-wen needs to understand the importance of such a strategy of ambiguity. She must not act rashly merely to appease homegrown fanatics. This incident confirms that in the long run, there is simply no way around the one China principle. Every attempt to get around it will precipitate a crisis. Tsai may as well come right out and say it: “Cross-Strait relations are not international relations”. This is especially important at the WHA, which honors the relevant United Nations resolutions. Such an action would enable other governments to understand that the ROC enjoys autonomy. It would address Beijing's concerns, and also obtain additional breathing space for ourselves.
What the public least wants to see, is the “The righteous and rogues cannot coexist” rhetoric that accompanied our departure from the United Nations decades ago. The DPP government must have the wisdom and eloquence to moderate passions within its own party.