Sun, May 22, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Not much consensus with no agreement

By Chai Trong-rong 蔡同榮

In an interview he gave to the Japanese Asahi Shimbun daily on May 4, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that what he calls the “1992 consensus” would continue to form the basis of relations between Taiwan and China. He also warned that no matter which party was in government, if it did not adhere to this principle, relations across the Taiwan Strait would come to a standstill.

Ma said the “1992 consensus” stipulated that while both sides of the Taiwan Strait agreed that there was one China, each had its own interpretation of what “one China” meant. Under this “consensus,” the Taiwanese side’s interpretation is that “one China” means the Republic of China (ROC), and that the Chinese mainland, including Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang, is part of the ROC.

This argument might fool some people in Taiwan, but there is no way the international community is going to accept it. And anyway, Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) wouldn’t dare to make such an argument when talking face-to-face with the Chinese Communist Party.

China, for its part, persists in loudly proclaiming to the international community that “one China” is a single country consisting of (mainland) China and Taiwan combined, and that Taiwan is part of China. This interpretation is widely accepted by the international community.

Saying that Taiwan is part of China has two implications.

First, it means that China is the central government and Taiwan is a local government of China. On Feb. 1 this year, the Philippines deported 14 Taiwanese criminal suspects to China. Taiwan strongly objected, but the Philippine government refused to acknowledge that it had done anything wrong.

The Philippine authorities said that they had sent the suspects to China in accordance with their “one China” policy, adding that any dispute about who has jurisdiction over the suspects should be worked out between Taiwan and China. Clearly, in handing these Taiwanese citizens over to China, the Philippines was merely following the logic of Taiwan’s own “one China” statements.

The second implication is that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China. That is why we have seen Taiwan’s name changed to things like “Taiwan, China” and “Taiwan Province of China.”

The latter is what Indonesia called Taiwan on 15 March, and the WHO has done the same thing.

These names sound peculiar because they are just plain wrong.

If everyone in the international community keeps calling Taiwan a province of China, then it’s only a matter of time before China really annexes Taiwan. That is why we are opposed to using this name.

The title arises from the notion that “Taiwan is part of China,” and the notion that “Taiwan is part of China” follows from the claim that “both sides of the Taiwan Strait agree that there is one China, with each side having its own interpretation.” That argument, in turn, is rooted in the so-called “1992 consensus.”

Considering how much of an influence the “1992 consensus” could have on Taiwan’s future prospects, the nation ought to hold a referendum on the matter.

The problem is that most people don’t really understand its full implications. So rather than having a referendum on the “1992 consensus,” it would be better to have one on the question, “Are you in favor of Taiwan becoming a province of the People’s Republic of China?”

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