However, this presupposes that both parties — nations — consist of two groups of people united in the goal of striving for freedom and human rights, through negotiations carried out by the democratic constitutional state that they had created, something that is absolutely necessary if the underpinnings of mutual trust are to be cultivated. If any one party enters into these negotiations placing its plans for a grand renaissance above its citizenry, and the other party is a government that does not think the same way, then the latter is going to think twice before agreeing to any concessions to the former.
This is why Taiwan and Japan can come to an agreement on fishing rights in the waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), and also why such a thing could rile Beijing so.
Given this, true peace across the Taiwan Strait cannot be guaranteed by a “peace agreement” predicated on achieving some kind of “great renaissance” alone. It needs to be constructed upon an understanding that both sides of the Strait can, to a given degree, realize a constitutional political order guaranteeing freedom, democracy and human rights.
Otherwise, whatever dream is concocted between the rulers will, in the end, turn into a nightmare for the citizens of their respective countries, and how can truly peaceful relations be established between two peoples living a nightmare?
Hsu Szu-chien is an associate research fellow at the Institute of Political Science at Academia Sinica and a board member of Taiwan Democracy Watch.
Translated by Paul Cooper