In the same vein, Taiwan today is not the same Taiwan that existed under the regime of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石). As a result, the DPP cannot get away with secretly interacting with senior members of the CCP.
Therefore, moves like Hsieh’s attempt to use his trip to the bartending event in Beijing in a private capacity as a means to pave the way for interaction between the DPP and the CCP are things that will continue to necessitate open communication with the public about cross-strait strategic interests.
This is the only way to put the minds of DPP supporters at ease while attempting to build ties with China.
Peace and development are in China’s best interests and, of course, the same is true for Taiwan. However, both sides have totally opposite views when it comes to the matter of Taiwanese sovereignty.
Fortunately, though, the international balance of power is what decides cross-strait relations.
China does not have a say in this matter and of course neither does Taiwan. Under the overriding premise of peaceful development, the CCP leadership in Beijing should be capable of accepting the “one China” principle.
While China may not be totally satisfied with this and its actual implications, it is still something its leaders could theoretically accept.
Over the past four years, we have seen that cross-strait interaction has been based on the formalistic concept that there is only one China as defined by the so-called “1992 consensus” and the agreement that there is only “one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what that one China means” (一個中國，各自表述.)
If the CCP was able to accept Hsieh’s visit to Beijing, we can safely say that the first meeting between the DPP and the CCP will be a touchstone for gradually developing mutual political trust.
The “constitutional consensus” (憲法共識) proposed by Hsieh is a consensus that must be agreed upon by all Taiwanese. If the CCP were also able to agree that this “constitutional consensus” was also an expression of the formalistic concept that there is only one China, which has directed the course of cross-strait interaction for the past four years, the DPP and the CCP would be able to start strategic interaction. Hopefully, this would lead to a gradual establishment of mutual trust and understanding.
The only way a true consensus can be established between Taiwan and China is for the DPP and the CCP to come to an agreement and develop mutual trust when it comes to cross-strait strategic interests.
This is also the only way that peaceful development between Taiwan and China, and in the East Asia region as a whole, can continue to progress and become stronger.
Hsieh has now held out an olive branch to the CCP and this is something that he should be commended for.
Hopefully the CCP will showcase the wisdom of its leaders by commencing a new chapter in the peaceful development of relations between Taiwan and China.
Tung Chen-yuan is a professor in the Graduate Institute of Development Studies at National Chengchi University.
Translated by Drew Cameron