Sat, Apr 07, 2012 - Page 8 News List

Bosnia is not a model for relations with China

By Hung Mao-hsiung 洪茂雄

Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) surprised nearly everyone when, at a forum in Beijing on March 24, he suggested that Taiwan and China are two areas of a single country.

If one searches for examples of “one country, two areas” in the world today, the one that best fits the description is probably Bosnia and Herzegovina, or Bosnia for short, which gained its independence following the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.

In 1995, in accordance with the Dayton Agreement, two mutually independent political entities were established within the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina. These two entities are Republika Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, also known informally as the Bosniak-Croat Federation or Muslim-Croat Federation. Most of the people who live in the former entity are Serbs, while those who live in the latter are mostly Muslim Bosniaks and Croats.

In this way, two administrative areas, neither of which is subordinate to the other, were set up within a single sovereign state, and only matters related to national affairs, such as foreign relations, national defense, security and transport are directed by the central government. This system of “one country, two areas,” or “one country, two political entities” has been largely successful in resolving the crisis of the three-year-long Bosnian War, and has allowed the region to maintain a reasonable level of stability and development.

Bosnia’s “one country, two areas” setup has four salient features. First, each of the country’s two big administrative areas has its own government, making the two political entities virtually independent. They are in effect two states within a single state. Second, the central government, which is responsible for national affairs, has a three-member presidency, the members of which are separately elected by one of the country’s three main ethnic groups, while the members of the national parliament’s two houses are also democratically elected in a way that reflects the proportions of the population represented by the country’s different ethnic groups. Third, Bosnia’s “one country, two areas” setup is recognized by the international community. Fourth, the three members of the Bosnian presidency take turns to serve as chair, each one serving for eight months.

The “one country, two areas” formula recently proposed in relation to Taiwan does not have any of these features.

Following Wu’s recent remarks, there has been a lot of discussion in Taiwan about the notion of “one country, two areas.” Does “one country, two areas” really describe the existing state of affairs? Anyone with a slight knowledge of international affairs can see that it does not.

To put it bluntly, Wu’s “one country, two areas” formula is an attempt to hoodwink Taiwanese and people abroad.

It reduces our nation’s status to that of an “area.” In addition, the political and economic systems in Taiwan and China are completely different, so the same rules cannot be applied to both sides. The name Republic of China (ROC) is hardly recognized anywhere outside Taiwan, so anyone who tries to apply the idea of “one country, two systems” is delusional. Everyone knows that, as far as the international community is concerned, “one China,” or “one country” in the context of China means the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

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