Mon, Jan 05, 2009 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Taiwan won’t bite at Hu’s bait

In his speech marking the 30th anniversary of China’s Jan. 1, 1979, “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) revealed the next stage in China’s united front strategy. He said that based on the “one China” principle, cross-strait cooperation on international, economic, military and cultural issues could increase.

He also said the two sides should sign a peace agreement and create a mechanism for economic cooperation, and that China would be willing to discuss arrangements for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations “as long as this does not create the scenario of ‘two Chinas’ or ‘one China and one Taiwan’.”

In China, or among those in the international community who do not understand the cross-strait situation, Hu may appear friendly, patient and flexible toward Taiwan, but as far as Taiwan itself is concerned, Hu’s speech was built on untruths and the so-called “1992 consensus.”

The only reason there was a breakthrough in cross-strait relations in 1992 was that it was agreed that each side could have its own interpretation of what “one China” stood for.

However, the “1992 consensus” now espoused by Hu is the People’s Republic of China’s version, a version that does not recognize the cross-strait status quo in which Taiwan is an independent and sovereign state or that Taiwan is a democracy with Taiwanese having the final say on national sovereignty. Hu’s version is of course unacceptable to Taiwanese.

Nor does Hu’s speech recognize that there is free and open competition between political parties in Taiwan, which means that different parties can use their own political platforms to attract voters, win power and implement their policies.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is leaning toward China and helped establish the KMT-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) forum as a platform for cross-strait cooperation. Already in charge of the national government, the legislature and a majority of local governments, the KMT holds Taiwan in the palm of its hand and all China needs to do to control Taiwan is control the KMT.

In connection with Hu’s speech, an opinion poll released in Taiwan showed that support for Taiwanese independence is at a record high (editorial, Jan. 2, page 8).

The Chinese leadership only needs to look at the big demonstrations and protests against Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin’s (陳雲林) visit to Taiwan in early November to see that a large portion of Taiwanese disagree with the KMT.

Although Hu says the CCP is willing to have contact with different Taiwanese parties, the premise for such contact is that the parties must stop working for Taiwanese independence. This is tantamount to requesting surrender and it is unlikely that Taiwan’s democratic parties would accept such a condition.

Hu may have given his own “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” but it was surely directed at CCP cadres, not the Taiwanese public. While the premise and content of the speech may have held some novelty value, it was but a rehash of old cliches for Taiwan.

Hu may also have offered Taiwan a few more tidbits in the shape of participation in international organizations, a peace agreement and economic cooperation, but this does not change the fact that these offers are mere bait.

If Taiwan bites rather than shows caution and restraint, the consequences will be dire.

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