After having been accused by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of not clearly stating her policies, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced the party’s 10-year policy guidelines on Monday, with her views on cross-strait relations attracting the most attention.
Tsai defined the focus of cross-strait relations by saying that the two sides should seek harmony, but reserve the right to disagree, while seeking agreement in a spirit of conciliation. She wants the two sides to strive for common interests and benefits.
Tsai’s announcement has established the main battlefield between the two main opponents in the presidential election. Mainland Affairs Council Chairperson Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) immediately attacked Tsai, posing 18 questions, while President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) attacked the policy statement in a speech in Kinmen.
Tsai’s view of cross-strait relations approaches the issue from a global perspective. She hopes that multi-layered and multifaceted exchanges between Taiwan and China would result in a framework for cross-strait peace, stability and interaction, which could help establish a stable and constructive bilateral relationship.
Tsai’s cross-strait policy maintains the DPP’s priority on placing Taiwan first and creating a consensus based on Taiwanese identity, but it is more pragmatic than former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) radical approach, in that it seeks mutual strategic gains and beneficial cross-strait trade.
Ma’s view, however, is to approach the issue from a Chinese perspective that expands outward to a global context. He says cross-strait relations must remain within the context of the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution and he sticks to the so-called “1992 consensus,” ignoring the fact that there is no such thing, and “mutual non-denial.”
His view of cross-strait relations is built on the fact that China has been willing to let him have a small corner for himself, so that he can express his views in Taiwan — the rest of the world accepts or understands China’s definition of the cross-strait relationship. This cruel reality is made painfully obvious by China’s suppression of Taiwan in the international arena.
Ma may want to highlight his cross-strait and diplomatic accomplishments by talking about Taiwan becoming an observer at the World Health Assembly, his diplomatic truce and how Taiwan enjoys visa exempt status in almost 100 countries, but the fact is that cross-strait relations have been more stable during his presidency because he and his government have bowed their heads and accepted the so-called “1992 consensus,” giving Ma a little corner for himself where he can continue to develop his pro-China policies in search of his goal of eventual unification.
Ma’s declaration a few days ago that China had rejected requests from three of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies to establish diplomatic relations, coupled with the fact that Taiwan’s diplomats and army no longer know what they are fighting to defend, make it clear that the diplomatic truce is just a gradual approach to unification with China.
Regardless of what the DPP’s and KMT’s cross-strait policies look like, China will not be satisfied if they don’t aim to create “one China.”
Both the KMT and the DPP should pay less attention to what China thinks and more attention to what the Taiwanese public want.