Thu, Aug 16, 2007 - Page 8 News List

What Ma's position on the `status quo' means

By Huang Yu-lin 黃玉霖

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that the KMT's position has always been that the Republic of China (ROC) is a sovereign, independent country. When reminded of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) position that Taiwan is a sovereign, independent country that also happens to be known as the ROC, Ma said that this means there is "one Taiwan, two interpretations."

More analysis needs to be made into what "one Taiwan, two interpretations" actually means.

When representatives of China and Taiwan met in Hong Kong in 1992 for talks on cross-strait trade and other issues, they reached a tacit agreement that each side could form its own interpretation of the "one China" principle. This agreement was later called the "1992 consensus" by Su Chi (蘇起), then chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC).

Although the KMT said that it had reached a consensus with Beijing that there is "one China, two interpretations," Beijing never acknowledged this. Instead, China has stated time and again that the "1992 consensus" means that Taiwan will adhere to the "one China" principle.

It makes sense for Beijing not to acknowledge the consensus of "one China, two interpretations," which could lead to dual international recognition of the ROC and the People's Republic of China (PRC).

So what does the "one China" principle mean? The second clause of China's "Anti-Secession" Law says: "There is only one China in the world. Both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. China's sovereignty and territorial integrity brook no division."

This is Beijing's real view of the "one China" principle. It was under this principle that the PRC replaced the ROC in the UN through UN Resolution 2758, which condemned the ROC as an illegal government.

The KMT's position of "one China, two interpretations" has obviously backfired on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. But looking at Ma's "one Taiwan, two interpretations" again, isn't this taking a page from Beijing's book and saying different things to different sides?

In other words, when speaking to China, Ma says he advocates "one China, two interpretations" to curry favor with the Chinese. To Taiwanese, meanwhile, Ma says he thinks there is "one Taiwan, two interpretations." This way, he covers both bases.

Ma goes on to explain that China originally didn't accept the ROC, but although cross-strait relations have changed, China has already changed its tune from "peaceful reunification; one country, two systems" to actively opposing independence and promoting unification. China is now discovering that the ROC is the lesser of two evils and the easier option to accept. The concept of the ROC could become the greatest common factor between the two sides, Ma says.

The "Anti-Secession" Law makes it obvious that Beijing is working to prevent independence and promote unification.

China may find it easier to accept the concept of the ROC rather than Taiwan, but it is not clear that Bejing will ever recognize the ROC.

If Beijing is not willing to acknowledge the ROC, that means Ma's position has no basis. Moreover, if he continues to advocate "one Taiwan, two interpretations," then doesn't he have to give up the position of "one China, two interpretations"?

However, if Ma continues to use "one China, two interpretations" to the Chinese on one hand, while on the other hand uses "one Taiwan, two interpretations" to connect with Taiwanese, isn't that just another way of saying he wants eventual unification?

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