Fri, Feb 23, 2001 - Page 13 News List

'Chinese Confederation' versus 'One China'

By Lee Chang-kuei 李長貴

A Leadership Conference should only decide on the external policies and legal framework of the confederation, without interfering in the member states' domestic politics, national defense and diplomatic policies. A Ministerial Conference should safeguard against international terrorist organizations, address safety on the high seas, and international crimes through WTO regulations on tariffs, economy, trade, and transportation.

The most fundamental purposes of the confederation's existence would be to create the best possible economic conditions for the member states, strengthen interdependence for economic interests, and improve the quality of life for people in general. Member states should not interfere with each other's politics, national defense and foreign affairs, so as to prevent any one state from becoming the appendage of another. Taiwan would neither interfere with China's domestic politics nor criticize China's human rights records, political reforms, economic and social policies, or its methods of power transfer.

The ROC and the PRC have never reached any consensus over the one China principle. The existence of two Chinas is a political fact. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has by now accepted the principle of "one China, with each side free to make its own interpretation." China has reciprocated by making the reopening of cross-strait talks possible. The basis of negotiation for unification is a Chinese confederation. This is a topic that China should be capable of accepting. With the existence of divided state sovereignty and territory by the ROC and the PRC as a basis, these two independent sovereign entities can integrate in the evolutionary manner of the EU. This would also be compatible with China's new interpretation of "one China, two countries," that is, a union between democratic and socialist countries. Taiwan has unequivocally expressed that it will not accept the Hong Kong model of "one country, two systems." Qian has already indicated that "China and Taiwan both belong to one China," thereby acknowledging the reality of two sovereign entities and the possibility of unifying the two through integration.

Taiwan cannot possibly accept the "one country, two systems" model that China had previously insisted upon. Taiwan demands that it maintain its independent sovereignty. China is finding Taiwan's position hard to bear. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been in a stand-off which has absorbed many resources and much time, with neither unification nor independence, for the past 52 years. The international community has been able to reap benefits from the situation. The two sides' simultaneous entry into the world economic order of the WTO presents a good chance to make a breakthrough for the current impasse. The two sides will proceed with encounters under the WTO framework, as well as engaging in economic negotiations. Major breakthroughs on the issue of the "three links" are inevitable. This is a chance for the two sides to realign their relationship.

With respect to the realignment of the cross-strait relationship, I personally suggest a dynamic and gradual process. President Chen Shui-bian's discourse on integration is a pretty good starting point. From economic and cultural integration, we may evolve into political integration. Such a development would be compatible with the process of entering the WTO. A confederation system is a reasonable mid-point between unification and independence. Once the two sides enter the integration process, both would be able to enjoy a stable transition period in which experiments for gradual and progressive cross-strait cooperations and exchanges may be carried out. Independence of the two sides, as well as the possibility of a "future one China" may be preserved in the process, leaving open the options and flexibility of independence and unification.

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