Sat, Jan 13, 2001 - Page 8 News List

President is paving the way for integration

By Julia Kuo 郭正亮

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has again come up with new thinking on cross-strait relations in his New Year remarks. Compared to the "four no's plus one" of his May 20 presidential inauguration speech, the New Year speech adopted a more proactive and positive note. Compared to the DPP's traditional arguments, Chen's speech has made a breakthrough in three respects:

First, Chen said: "Under the ROC Constitution, `one China' should not be an issue." This is the first time the new government has officially echoed "one China in accordance with the [ROC] Constitution" in the present tense, in contrast to its previous "future one China" dictum. In other words, it has pronounced "one China, with each side having its own interpretation" on the basis of the ROC Constitution, transcending the dispute over whether or not to accept the "one China principle."

Second, Chen said: "Both sides of the Taiwan Strait came from the same family" and that they "wish to live under the same roof." He also added: "The integration of our economies, trade, and culture can be a starting point for gradually building faith and confidence in each other. This, in turn, can be the basis for a new framework of permanent peace and political integration."

The "same roof" idea is reminiscent of the "rooftop theory," which served as a model for German reunification. It recognizes that the two sides can try to build some kind of common framework as a cross-strait policymaking mechanism. "Political integration" is an attempt at transcending all unification-independence disputes and a move toward a more pluralistic model -- a quest for ideological reconciliation between the National Unification Council (NUC, 國統會) and the President's Advisory Group on Cross-strait Affairs (跨黨派小組).

Thirdly, Chen has also vowed to include cross-strait economic and trade issues into global market considerations before Taiwan's entry into the WTO. Chen also said he would adopt the new perspective of "positive openness with effective management," prepare a macro-economic plan for Taiwan and direct it toward a knowledge-based economy.

At a New Year gathering shortly afterward, Chen said the "big three links" will be opened around the time both Taiwan and China enter the WTO, and that the Ministry of Economic Affairs will also revise the "no haste, be patient" policy and ease the restrictions on investments in China.

The fact that Chen has opened up new lines of thought on the cross-strait issue is an indication that he is determined to seek breakthroughs and defuse both internal and external troubles. In strategic terms, the move toward "one China with each side having its own interpretation in accordance with the ROC Constitution" will help the two sides work around the "one China" dispute. It will also free the new Taiwan government from word games like "one China" and the "1992 consensus," and allay criticism from Beijing and Taiwan's opposition parties.

The idea of "political integration under the same roof" will be beneficial in the event of a merger between the NUC and the President's Advisory Group on Cross-Strait Affairs. The word "unification" may then be changed to "union," bringing both the unification and independence theories into a broader framework. Even though neither the pro-unification nor pro-independence camps will be satisfied with this, they will be able to take what they want from the new framework.

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