Swing voters may not expect the KMT to offer them anything better as a result of its cross-strait policies, but they will worry about what they might lose if cross-strait relations do not continue as before.
If the economy is this bad now, even though economic and trade relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are closer than ever and Chinese tourists are pouring into Taiwan, then is it not conceivable that it might get even worse if cross-strait relations became tense again?
In January last year, DPP Central Standing Committee member Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) proposed a “constitutional consensus” (憲法共識) formula for cross-strait relations, but faced a lot of criticism for it from within his own party. The Chinese government does not accept it either.
As for the KMT, it ridiculed Hsieh’s “constitutional one China” (憲法一中), and “constitutions with different interpretations” (憲法各表) proposals, saying that they were the same as its own “one China with different interpretations” (一中各表).
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), his predecessor Tsai and other potential candidates for the nation’s top job are trying to think how to get out of the tight spot they are in over the “1992 consensus.”
However, DPP mayors and county commissioners in central and southern Taiwan are not keen on seeing such a breakthrough, and the party’s traditional supporters are not anxious to see it happen either.
If this goes on, the DPP will have to resort to tossing the thorny issue of whether to recognize the “1992 consensus” back into the hands of the KMT and CCP by making it known that it will only be possible for the DPP to recognize the “1992 consensus” if the CCP recognizes the idea of “one China with different interpretations.”
However, now that Hu has mentioned the “1992 consensus” in his political report to the CCP’s 18th Party Congress, causing the phrase to be written into the party’s official documents for the first time, such an opportunist approach by the DPP would not win the party much trust from the public.
China’s 12th National People’s Congress is scheduled to go into session next year, and personnel changes will have to be made in the People’s Central Government, also known as the State Council.
In addition, “seven-in-one” municipal and local elections will be held in Taiwan in 2014. The surest way to prevent cross-strait issues from affecting those elections is for Xi take over where Hu left off and keep on working along the same lines, in the realization that it is sometimes better to leave things as they are.
One important political achievement that would be a continuation of Hu’s policies would be for the two semi-official bodies responsible for handling cross-strait dialogue — China’s ARATS and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation — to set up offices in each other’s territories. Given these considerations, we will probably have to wait until after 2014 for Xi’s own Taiwan policies to become distinct.
Agreements about cross-strait economic cooperation have already been inked and implemented during Hu’s tenure, so if Xi is to make any breakthroughs, they will probably come in the form of cultural agreements.