Thu, Aug 30, 2007 - Page 8 News List

Limited utility of Ma's status quo

By Huang Yu-lin 黃玉霖

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has described the "status quo" in Taiwan as having "one Taiwan, with each side [green and blue] being its own interpretation." He says the KMT has always insisted that the "Republic of China [ROC] is a sovereign and independent country," reaffirming his clear ROC-oriented ideology.

Judging by this, it is obviously the ROC that the KMT hopes to "return" to the UN with its referendum. The "Taiwan" that is mentioned in the proposal is just like the "other titles that will help lead to success while also retaining dignity," which the KMT says are acceptable for applying to the UN. In other words, "Taiwan" is just a name.

As for the design of the referendum, reaffirming ROC-centered thinking helps alleviate pan-blue supporters' concerns about the mention of "Taiwan" in the proposal. After all, Ma cannot survive if he completely casts off the ROC. He has finally understood that the only way for him to reaffirm the ROC's legitimacy is through a referendum.

Ma believes Beijing considers the ROC the lesser of two evils, and that the ROC can be a "common denominator" that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the KMT and China can all agree exists, whether in name or substance. Ma is therefore attempting to find a foothold for the ROC in cross-strait relations. As long as he can gain that foothold, names aren't so important.

But under this ROC-centered ideology, the referendum to "return" to the UN will undergo a metamorphosis. When juxtaposed with the DPP's referendum to "enter" the UN, the KMT referendum will cease to be a referendum on what name to choose -- be it ROC, Taiwan or "other," as the proposal states -- but a referendum on ROC versus Taiwan identification.

Moreover, even as Ma advocates "one Taiwan with different interpretations," to Taiwan, he also upholds the "one China with different interpretations" position toward China. As long as the "one China" framework remains unchanged and Ma continues to uphold Beijing's right to represent that "one China" and advocates that Taiwan pursue negotiations with China on mid-range issues rather than Taiwan's ultimate fate, the ROC will unfortunately become a tool for Ma's "eventual unification."

Choosing the ROC will be tantamount to choosing the road to unification.

In other words, if, after stating that there is "one Taiwan with different interpretations," Ma is still unwilling to give up "one China with different interpretations," then the KMT's referendum will undoubtedly evolve into a choice between unification or independence for Taiwan's national path.

Perhaps Ma will respond that "one China with different interpretations" is a portrayal of the cross-strait "status quo," just as "one Taiwan with different interpretations" is a portrayal of the "status quo" in Taiwan.

As long as each side maintains the "status quo," there will be no problem, and there will be no question of unification in the short term. If there is no time limit set on these "mid-range negotiations," everyone can relax.

Indeed, the Chinese media widely report that Ma describes the "status quo" by saying that "the ROC is a sovereign, independent state," but there is no response from Beijing. As long as the KMT persists with the "one China" framework, Beijing seems willing to leave some leeway and refrain from directly exerting too much pressure.

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