Almost two weeks ago, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) honorary chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) met with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in Beijing, and broached the “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” concept as, Wu said, he had been entrusted to do.
The news caused an uproar in Taiwan. Although President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has said the proposal is in line with the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution, vice president-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), knowing full well that Beijing intends to put the Taiwan-based Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation (CSCMF) on equal footing with its Hong Kong and Macau counterparts, still attended the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference on Sunday in the capacity of the CSCMF’s chief advisor, with Ma’s approval.
This is tantamount to the government announcing to the international community that the “one country, two areas” proposal recognizes Beijing’s basic position of the “one China” principle, in which “Taiwan is part of China.” Taiwanese are seeing their room to maneuver in international law being appropriated by Beijing at an ever-increasing rate.
In response to concerns over the new proposal, Ma has said it complies with the Constitution, adding that neither of former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) or Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) amended the relevant parts of the Constitution when in office, thereby indicating their tacit agreement. They were, so Ma’s suggestion goes, “one country, two area” presidents.
However, the Ma administration has been joining Beijing to attack Lee’s model of a “special state-to-state relationship” and Chen’s “one country on either side” of the Taiwan Strait.
Clearly, the pronouncements on the nature of Taiwan’s sovereignty by its national leaders does have a considerable bearing on how Beijing and the international community recognize Taiwan’s status. Otherwise, would Beijing have hurried through the “Anti-Secession” Law despite no changes having been made to the relevant parts of the ROC Constitution at the time?
The government thinks it can hide behind the Constitution to cover up that it is complying with Beijing’s “one China” principle. The Constitution was the same in the Lee and Chen periods, but Taiwanese were not worried about Taiwan losing its sovereignty. However, concerns over Taiwan being annexed by China have risen dramatically since Ma took office.
Now, regardless of how China defines the status of the CSCMF relative to similar institutions in Hong Kong and Macau, Wu Den-yih’s attendance at the Boao Forum constitutes an indication to the international community that the government’s “one country, two areas” proposal comprises a tacit recognition of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) position that Taiwan is essentially a region belonging to it, with Taipei basically a regional government, and that it — the PRC — has agreed to have Wu Den-yih attend the forum in a consultant capacity. No wonder people suspect that the “one country, two areas” proposal is intended to pave the way for political talks between Taiwan and China.
The Ma administration has overseen the unraveling of all the hard work and consolidation of Taiwan’s sovereign status achieved through years of democratization.
If Taiwanese fail to register our protest in the strongest terms and Ma continues to confirm “one country, two areas” in international forums after May 20, we won’t be voting for a president in 2016 — we will be choosing our chief executive.