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Reality of cross-strait ties, politically misguided mantras

Publication Date : 08-08-2012


A mantra is really very easy to chant, but the Democratic Progressive Party has restrained itself from perfunctorily charging the Kuomintang (KMT) with selling out Taiwan since it lost the presidential election on last January 14. Not because it didn't want to, but because it's been too busy drilling lame duck President Ma Ying-jeou for buckling under pressure from the US to lift the ban on American beef containing meat-enhancer ractopamine residue, raising capital gains tax, and hiking gas prices as well as power rates.

Then, a little more than a week ago, Wo Po-hsiung, honourary chairman of the KMT, met Jia Qinglin, Chinese chairman of the National People's Political Consultative Conference, at the eighth Cross-Strait Economic Trade, Trade and Culture Forum in Harbin to give opposition party leaders a godsend chance to chant their beloved “sell out Taiwan” mantra again.

Wu didn't say anything offensive in Harbin. All he did was keep his mouth shut while Jia said at the beginning of the forum that Taiwan and the People's Republic “belong to one country and their relations are not state-to-state relations.” Opposition leaders in Taipei were up in arms about it. They accused Wu of “selling out Taiwan” by silent confirmation of Jia's claim. It's the first chorus of the mantra in half a year.

But the chancy attack missed the point. There's nothing Wu could say to repudiate Jia's claim. The opposition leaders seem to forget Lee Teng-hui, the godfather of the Taiwan independence movement, created the National Unification Council and had the Guidelines for National Unification adopted in 1991 while he was president of the Republic of China.

According to the guidelines, both Taiwan and the Chinese mainland are part of China, and under this principle what is known as the “1992 Consensus” was reached in that year to ensure the security of the Taiwan Strait and improve relations between its two sides. The consensus is a tacit pact, under which both Taipei and Beijing are agreed that there is but one China whose definition can be orally and independently elucidated. To put it simply, both sides agree Taiwan and the People's Republic belong to one country, which is China, albeit each may define that country differently from the other. So, Jia wasn't wrong by stating Taiwan and the People's Republic belong to "one country”.

Jia wasn't wrong, either, by defining relations between the two sides as “not state-to-state relations”. Toward the end of his term, in 1999, Lee defined those relations as a “special state-to-state relationship” in an interview with a German radio broadcasting station. That declaration, which was not incorporated in the guidelines by an amendment, was condemned in Beijing and regarded in Washington as a “two-China” principle which shouldn't and couldn't be included in the Constitution of the Republic of China to provoke the People's Republic into attacking Taiwan.

As a matter of fact, Uncle Sam made President Chen vow not to do so in his inaugural address in 2000 and again in 2004. The stay in the enforcement of the guidelines isn't tantamount to its abolition and so far as the government is concerned, the guidelines and the principle of “one China with different interpretations” do not officially make cross-strait relations a state-to-state relationship.

As a logical consequence, Wu isn't guilty as charged by the opposition leaders even with his “silent confirmation”. However, the most ridiculous charges of selling out Taiwan are that the KMT is doing or trying to do it for China. The KMT under President Chiang Kai-shek tried to recover the Chinese mainland for unification. The party under his son Chiang Ching-kuo could have surrendered Taiwan to China but he started democratising Taiwan where nobody or no group of people can sell the island state to the other side of the strait.

Does anybody in his sane mind think President Ma and his KMT can sell out Taiwan? Don't be silly. Even those politicians who accuse them of a sellout do not believe he and his party can. But the easy mantra has to be chanted off and on perpetually to win voter support.


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