Mon, Nov 20, 2000 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: Hsieh goes forward into the past

It isn't often that we find the Bible a useful guide to modern Taiwan politics but "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly" (Proverbs 26:11) seems as pithy a description as you could find of the antics of the not-so-loyal opposition the Saturday before last. As Lien Chan (連戰), James Soong (宋楚瑜) and Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) indulged their necrophiliac tendencies with the ghost of Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), rational observers could only gaze open-mouthed at the sight of three politicians trying to present themselves as a credible alternative to the present government by suggesting that society needs to take a great ideological -- and we have to assume political -- leap backwards. It's "back to the future" stood on its head, "forward into the past." In the spirit of Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良), we might christen it "boldly march backward."

If Taiwan's own Curly, Mo and Larry want to press ahead as staunch advocates of an ideological stance that all but a handful of Taiwanese find utterly irrelevant and some find positively distasteful, that might be their affair, crazy though it seems. But just when we thought things couldn't get any weirder, yesterday they did, when DPP Chairman Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) seemed to come out advocating the "one China" principle. Actually it might be a bit confusing to say "the" here because "one China" now comes in three versions. Everyone is familiar enough with the two standards, what we might call the Taiwan Two Views model -- "each side having its own interpretation" -- and the Red Menace version where "one China" means the PRC which includes Taiwan.

But now we have a new style to contend with. Well, not exactly new, but it hasn't been around for a decade or so, which we might call One China Classic. Classic is for those who deplore the absence of such exhortatory slogans as "retake the mainland" from modern Taiwanese life. It is in essence that there is one China in the world, and that is the Republic of China of which the mainland is a part. Hsieh leans toward this interpretation apparently, because that is what is laid down in the Constitution which all Taiwan's politicians have a duty to abide by.

Anybody who thought Chinese culture lacked a sense of irony must now hang his head in shame. What could be a more subtle way of showing the folly of a particular viewpoint than to pretend to agree with it, perhaps advocate it yourself. Hsieh, as a previous independence supporter could justly plead that he was not well versed in the rich subtleties of One China Classic and how advocating it is going to improve Taiwan's standing in the world or improve relations with that recalcitrant part of China that doesn't accept rule from Taipei. He, therefore, would need those better versed in this robust ideology such as Lien and Soong to show him the way to "one China" enlightenment. Perhaps we could televise his education sessions. What better way for a skillful dialectician to show up Classic for the deranged fantasy that it is and has been since 1949? In fact, Hsieh might even be able to show that any model of "one China" is nonsensical given the obvious existence of two nation states on either side of the Taiwan Strait. Could he thereby build a consensus for the only way of looking at cross-strait relations which mirrors reality, the "two states" model of Lee Teng-hui (李登輝)? We can only hope so.

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