Sat, Feb 03, 2001 - Page 8 News List

New integration framework needed

By Cheng Hsing-ti 鄭興弟

With 2001 just into its second month, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) greeted the new millennium with a new vision. He proposed a framework of "political integration" to work toward a future "one China," thereby jumping free of the ideology of the DPP's pro-independence faction. His proposal demonstrated good intentions, creativity and a willingness to make a breakthrough in cross-strait relations.

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1989, when 15 former Soviet republics formed the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) after becoming independent, I have been contemplating the possibility that something like the CIS model of "independence within unity and unity within independence" might emerge in cross-strait relations.

In 1990, Columbia University sponsored a conference "Constitutional Reform and the Future of the ROC." I participated by attempting to write a script for future cross-strait relations according to the scenario-planning method.

For the last 10 years I have used the term "integration" instead of "unification." There are different models of integration. Apart from the above-mentioned CIS model, there are also the versions represented by the British Commonwealth, a confederation, and the EU. Some people consider that from 1781 to 1789, the US confederation of 13 states was a kind of integrated political entity. That, however, was an integrated entity composed of states and not countries.

We can see from Chen's remarks that his proposed "integration" model is built on two key premises: that the 23 million people of Taiwan want to be the masters of their own destiny and that the dignity of the ROC in the international arena must be respected.

Apart from involving the positions of the two political entities on each side of the Taiwan Strait, the future development of cross-strait relations also depends on each side's interaction with the US. Analyzed from the perspective of the triangular relationship between the US, China and Taiwan, Chen's integration goal should be something all three parties would like to see.

First of all, the US position on cross-strait relations can be condensed to "two no's" -- no use of military force by the PRC in settling the cross-strait problem and no unilateral declaration of independence by Taiwan. The PRC's position with regard to Taiwan also becomes essentially, "opposition to Taiwan independence."

Taiwan is already a de facto independent sovereign country. The PRC's so-called "opposition to Taiwan independence" should mean opposition to Taiwan moving from de facto independence toward de jure independence, or in other words, opposition to the ROC becoming the Republic of Taiwan.

There are three paths Taiwan could take to realize de jure independence. The first is to unilaterally declare independence. The second is to vote for independence in a plebiscite. Finally, the third is to win allies through "dual recognition" and return to the international stage. Both the US and China oppose the first path. The US respects "national self-determination," however, and has repeatedly stated that Taiwan's future should be decided by its people. If Taiwan seeks independence by the second or third path, there won't be much resistance from the US. Of course, at the current stage, the PRC opposes Taiwan moving toward de jure independence by these two paths as well.

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