Sun, Jun 20, 2010 - Page 8 News List

Now is the time to forge consensus

By Steve Tsang 曾銳生

If ever there was an opportunity for China and Taiwan to find a way to ensure that future confrontations do not escalate and drag the US into a conflict, it is now. What Ma must do is forge a clearer consensus within Taiwan that the independence vs unification issue is a phony one. The real issue is whether both sides can acknowledge that Taiwan’s people have the right to determine their future.

China’s leaders need to be persuaded that conceding this point does not imply letting Taiwan move towards de jure independence. This may require that the Taiwanese abandon their tendency to hold regular referendums to show that they enjoy this right.

Beijing will need to recognize that the best way to entice Taiwanese to embrace reunification is to make the proposition so attractive that they cannot resist. There is no need to set a timetable for this. As a rising superpower, China should feel confidant that time is on its side.

The whole world shares an interest in preventing disagreements between Taiwan and China from becoming a cause for military confrontation between the US and China. Ma has created the necessary conditions for deactivating the trigger. It is time for the rest of the world to support him in removing it forever, so that Taiwan will continue to fade as a global security concern.

Steve Tsang is a professorial fellow in Taiwan Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford University.

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