Enough people, more than 100,000, have now signed the petition for the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) referendum proposal which calls for a return to the UN under a "practical" title. Compared with the threatening words with which it reacted to the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) referendum proposal on joining the UN as a new member, China has been remarkably cool about the KMT's proposal. It has only criticized the party for dancing along with the pan-green camp, and made an indirect remark about how this damaged the friendly relations between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Why is China so indifferent to this proposal?
On the surface, the KMT's referendum proposal is simple. While following the party's policy of the "New three noes" -- no opposing Taiwanese autonomy, no going against public opinion, and no trying to compete with the DPP proposal -- the party made sure that "Taiwan" is one of the names under which the nation could return to the UN, in order to win the support of the pan-green voters.
Adding pan-blue voter support by using the name the "Republic of China" (ROC) and swing voter support by using "other names that are dignified and will help meet with success" is a good idea. The referendum will easily meet the threshold of a turnout of more than 50 percent, and it might even win the support of the absolute majority of the voters.
But the designers of the KMT's referendum proposal should get the facts straight. Deep-green voters won't support using the name "ROC," and deep-blue voters are wary of the name "Taiwan." Hence, the proposal is mainly aimed at swing voters who are fine with maintaining the "status quo."
The problem is that swing voters who are for maintaining the "status quo" can be divided into two groups: light-green voters who lean towards the name "Taiwan," and light-blue who sympathize with the name "ROC." The former might not support using ROC, while the latter do not necessarily support using "Taiwan." If we analyze the opinion polls perhaps the referendum proposal does not actually reflect the position of the moderate voters.
The designers of the question in the referendum know that if the moderate voters do not have a clear position, there might not be a majority voting equilibrium.
The worst possible outcome would be if neither the KMT's nor the DPP's proposal passed. Then China would have a new excuse to continue its attempts to annex Taiwan using UN resolution 2758 and its "Anti-Secession" Law.
If the KMT proposal fails, and the DPP proposal passes, the KMT strategy of confusing the people will have failed, and Taiwanese sovereignty will be reinforced.
If the KMT proposal passes, and the DPP does not, that would mean that the KMT strategy to confuse will have succeeded. It will also mean that most people agree with maintaining the "status quo," and that the combination of voters sympathizing with China or identifying with the ROC are in the majority.
Lastly, if both proposals pass, then no matter how much the two sides disagree on the interpretation, Taiwanese sovereignty is standing strong.
Hence, the most important issue in this case is whether the referendum proposal for applying for new UN membership will pass. As the moderate voters don't have a clear position on the issue, the proposal about returning to the UN is not a real subject for discussion. Beijing has understood this very well, and that's why they reacted so harshly to the former proposal, and only had some strategic criticism of the latter.