Sun, Oct 30, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Reading the motives in Ma’s peace proposal

By Chen Rong-jye 陳榮傑

The Japanese media recently quoted President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) as saying he was not opposed to discussing a political agreement about unification or a peace agreement with China. The day after that quote appeared in the Japanese press, the presidential office criticized the report, saying it was subjective and prejudiced. With those words still ringing in our ears, Ma then announced that Taiwan would negotiate a peace agreement with China within the next 10 years.

This issue is extremely important to Taiwanese and the future of the nation, and as such a national consensus needs to be achieved to ensure any proposal has the legitimacy it needs before a formal announcement. It is therefore very worrying to see Ma’s slipshod and rushed approach to the issue.

According to former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and current Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), any so-called peace agreement with Taiwan would seek to end the civil war between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), and return Taiwan to “the motherland.” This is not what Ma means when he talks about a mechanism to prevent war between the two nations.

In 1951, Tibet was forced to sign the “Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” under threat of war. After the agreement was signed, the People’s Liberation Army continued massacring Tibetans, revealing the agreement to be a useless piece of paper.

A peace accord that prevents war touches on many complex issues, including the status of the parties to the agreement, the establishment of a framework for peace, the planning of the peace process, how to execute the agreement, international monitoring, a restructuring of national defense, as well as international arbitration. Every step of this process would be difficult.

Considering how China has behaved toward Taiwan, it is difficult to argue that the environment will be conducive to the signing of a peace agreement any time soon.

First, would it be possible for Taiwan to sign an agreement with the “Central People’s Government” as the “Local Government of Taiwan”? If we cannot even agree on the title of the document, how can we expect to agree on anything else?

Any peace agreement that fails to prevent war, even if it is wrapped in a pretty package, is nothing more than a unification agreement in disguise. A peace agreement ending a civil war between the CCP and the KMT, or a peace agreement similar to the one signed by Tibet, is essentially an agreement for Taiwan to return to the so-called “motherland.” Ma simply prefers to dress up this transitional arrangement in an inoffensive way.

Furthermore, Beijing defines cross-strait issues as domestic affairs because it wants to eliminate international interference, particularly the international peace and safety mechanisms included in the UN Charter. There are currently no regional security institutions that could ensure the validity of such an agreement, nor is there a joint bilateral defense system. The only safety net would be the US’ Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) and the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan — the latter applying to areas around Japan, including the Taiwan Strait.

Any cross-strait peace agreement would not only fail to guarantee Taiwan’s security, it would also give China an excuse to demand that the US discontinue arms sales to Taiwan.

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