The death of Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF,
At the same time, the news has triggered a wave of discussions on the issue of cross-strait relationship. Koo was a businessman, as well as a diplomat who dedicated himself to helping out with the foreign relations of the country and acting as a intermediary to the two sides of the Taiwan Striat.
He was a studious and gentle man who held a perfect grasp of the elegant arts of dealing with people. He was an exemplary model of Taiwanese gentry and Japanese nobility, as well as a refined and sophisticated businessman who was well learned in both Western and traditional cultures. The passing away of someone like him naturally invited mixed feelings from people.
However, the discussions of the cross-strait issues occassioned by Koo's death, whether on policies, personnel, or the exchanges between the two sides, seem to have been based mostly on personal emotions and subjectivism, lacking any broad perspective about the time and place in the backdrop of the events, ignoring the objective situation of the cross-strait relationship and overlooking the historical significance of the evolution of the Taiwan consciousness.
In other words, most of the discussions and commentaries on cross-strait relations made around the time of Koo's death either sang praises about the excellent negotiating skills of Koo in cross-strait talks or the historic significance of Koo's meeting with Wang Daohan (汪道涵), the chairman of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS, 海協會).
All of this commentary has missed the point, focusing on the exquisite performance of the individual actors while turning a blind eye to the era in which the events took place.
Koo had indeed done much work during his life time in the area of cross-strait relations. Due to his personality traits, he gave outstanding performances in cross-strait negotiations. In particular, as the representative of the 23 million people in Taiwan, he met and dealt with Jiang Zemin (
His performance was indeed praise worthy. It is also a rare exception that, within the political circles in Taiwan, no one from either the pro-unification or pro-independence camp ever said anything harsh about him.
Perhaps this is why some people have said that he is "irreplaceable," and that currently no one within Taiwan is comparable with Koo. Therefore, Taiwan will be further disadvantaged in future cross-strait negotiations, that cross-strait relationship can never return to the rosier days of the Koo-Wang talks, and in a nutshell the cross-strait relationship will be worse off than before, so these people observed.
Frankly speaking, we also give a thumbs up to Koo's performance. However, as often indicated by some people from the Chinese communist camp, "the objective situation can never be changed by the subjective will of the individuals."
The evolution of the cross-strait relationship follows the path of the policies of the two governments on the two sides of the Strait, the determination of the leadership, the objective circumstances in the international community, and the popular will. No one person can call the shots.