Thu, Feb 03, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Editorial: A breakthrough is still needed

The memorial service of Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), Taiwan's top cross-strait negotiator and former chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), was held at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall yesterday. Koo's name will go down in history as a man who skillfully navigated through the rough and, at times, treacherous rapids of cross-strait relations.

Remarkably, Koo's counterpart, China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) chairman Wang Daohan (汪道涵), appointed Sun Yafu (孫亞夫), ARATS vice chairman and deputy director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) and Li Yafei (李亞飛), ARATS secretary-general, to fly to Taipei on his behalf to pay their respects and express his condolences. Unexpectedly, Koo's passing led to a visit by the highest-ranked Chinese officials in a decade.

Coming on the heels of the commencement of charter flights for the Lunar New Year holidays, it would seem that the strained cross-strait relationship is currently undergoing a thaw. But the local and international media have been profligate in their use of terms such as "thaw" and "breakthrough" to describe the cross-strait currents.

In fact, China's proposed "anti-secession law" will be enacted in March to criminalize Taiwan consciousness. Also, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) recently pointed out that the number of missiles that China deploys against Taiwan has increased by 120 over the past year. According to the Ministry of National Defense, the number of ballistic missiles deployed against Taiwan as of 2003 December has now increased to 706.

These contradictory facts tell us that as long as China's attitude towards Taiwan remains unchanged, any single case of improvement in relations may be reversed, at any time. If Beijing still does not free itself from an insistence on the "one China" principle, there really isn't any opportunity for the two sides to break through the deadlock.

The most difficult thing is to explain the difference between "China" (中國) and "Chunghua" (中華) to others, because no specific word in any dictionary explains the term "Chunghua." No matter how it is sought, one can only find the words "China" and "Chinese" -- which are related to the Han () ethnic group. However, to the people of Taiwan, the words "China" and "Chinese" are unable to clarify today's complex political, historical, and cultural relations between Taiwan and China.

Literally, the word "China" refers to national identity, while the term "Chunghua" refers to the historical and cultural identity of the Han ethnic group. For example, Taiwanese themselves do not refer to "Chinese food," and instead refer to the full range of Chinese cuisines as "Chunghua cuisine" (中華料理), because "Chunghua cuisine" has a wider scope and deeper meaning.

China is not the only country stuck in the dead-end "one China" mindset; the international community as a whole is immersed in it. One way out of the "one China" impasse is the adoption of the term "Chunghua." Both share the common symbol of "Chunghua" in their name, a symbol that transcends national boundaries and refers to a cultural community. With a shared sense of community, Taiwan and China can open a window of cooperation toward a future of mutual prosperity across the Strait. From the perspective of a cultural community, the "one China" principle should refer to a common community of "Chunghua" rather than a single Chinese nation.

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