The trained observer should have immediately recognized an eyesore of a dent in the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) “no unification” — as with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “three noes” policy of “no unification, no independence, and no use of force” from his 2008 inaugural address — armor late last month after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) selected Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as its nominee for next year’s presidential election.
It should first be recalled that early last month, KMT officials went to great lengths to defame several Western academics and officials for having the temerity to submit an open letter to Ma questioning whether an investigation initiated by the Presidential Office was politically motivated.
Former Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) went so far as to denounce the Western academics for meddling in Taiwan’s internal affairs and “disrespect[ing] ... Taiwan’s rule of law.”
However, when the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Yang Yi (楊毅) later the same month warned the DPP of serious consequences if it pressed for independence, the Presidential Office said nothing. One can hardly imagine anything but smug satisfaction from the pan-blue camp with regards to the PRC’s comments.
When former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) visited Chongqing this week and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Chairman Jia Qinglin (賈慶林) urged Taiwanese to “choose the right person” — obviously referring to Ma — next year, the Presidential Office again said nothing. Once again, one can picture corks popping in pan-blue enclaves.
It came as no surprise to followers of cross-strait relations and Taiwanese and Chinese politics that the KMT did not seek to shut the Chinese spokespeople up. The KMT clearly believes it benefits from Chinese support. After all, the KMT — like the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — believes that Taiwan is an indisputable part of China.
However, the problem for the KMT is that it believes itself to be China (while still managing to accuse the DPP of being “ideological” and out of touch with reality).
The real dent in the KMT’s “no unification” armor, which should have been easy for the trained eye to see, was the cognitive dissonance that informed the KMT’s characterization of well-intentioned comments from Western academics as interference, but silent jubilation in the face of Chinese interference.
Of course, all of this can easily be explained if one believes that Taiwan and China are part of the same political construct. The KMT and the CCP have for nearly seven decades agreed that Taiwan is a part of China. By extension, if Taiwan and China are part of the same political construct, then Western comments regarding Taiwan’s internal political affairs amount to foreign interference, whereas Chinese comments are, by definition, domestic input.
However, it is at this juncture that the issue becomes more problematic because the KMT and CCP just cannot for the life of them agree how to define “China.”
The Ma administration has sworn that Taiwan — or at least the Republic of China (ROC) — is a sovereign nation. Indeed, Ma in the past often spoke about the ROC’s — indeed, even “Taiwan’s” — sovereign status.
The problem should be clear to all by now: Taiwan, according to the KMT, is a sovereign part of China, a sovereign political construct and according to the Presidential Office will not tolerate foreign interference in its domestic affairs.