Fri, Jun 24, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Shifting the dynamics in the ‘1992 framework’

By Ted Chang 陳峻綱

When parties come to power, they are often compelled to modify their values to achieve certain ends. Like it or not, a future Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration could be forced to swallow a bitter pill and deal with Beijing based on the so-called “1992 consensus.”

Such a scenario, however, does not necessarily mean that the party would have to sell out its core values. Even though the DPP has rejected the “1992 consensus” — that there is “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” — the room for interpretation of this “consensus” is something the party could exploit.

Given their traditional opposition to this “consensus,” for pan-greens to accept this is a non-starter, as the most problematic issue is the connotation of what the term “one China” refers to.

According to the “1992 consensus,” the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have agreed not to actively challenge each side’s own interpretation of what “one China” is.

Under the KMT’s interpretation, “one China” refers to the Republic of China (ROC), which encompasses the Taiwan, or “free,” and “mainland” areas. The CCP defines “one China” as all territories under the rule of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including Tibet and Xinjiang, Taiwan, the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) and pretty much all of the South China Sea.

However, this generally accepted premise of “one China” — that Taiwan is a part of China — is just that: a premise.

As for the DPP, it too recognizes “one China” — a PRC that does not include Taiwan.

If the KMT and CCP are happy to play this interpretation game, defining territories based on their own interests, what’s to stop the DPP from entering the arena where it could change the dynamics from within the same framework?

Although Beijing will never admit it, the “1992 consensus” it follows as the basis for cross-strait relations is essentially a tacit acceptance that Taiwan does not belong to it, and as long as a DPP administration does not reject outright the “consensus” or formally declare independence, Beijing would have no reason to reject talks with Taipei.

The DPP would not even have to make public its interpretation of “one China;” it’s already known where the party stands on this.

Rather, if it approached talks with Beijing using the “1992 consensus” as a basis, yet with the mindset that there is indeed one China that does not include Taiwan, it could break a potential impasse that as of now would closely follow the possible election of DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as president.

Granted, the DPP would have to answer to the deep-green segment of the party, which would scoff at any notion of adopting the “1992 consensus,” but if the neck-and-neck results in recent polls translate into a narrow victory for Tsai in January’s presidential election, such a result could hardly be considered a resounding endorsement of the party’s cross-strait policy, including its rejection of the “1992 consensus.”

DPP figures have shown themselves to be capable of pragmatic approaches when dealing with Taiwan’s political status. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) — when he was in power at least — considered the ROC as Taiwan and Taiwan as the ROC, while former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) not too long ago proposed his “constitutional consensus” theory, which included the idea of “one Constitution, two interpretations.”

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