The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) announced last week that it expects to finalize the preliminary conclusion of its latest China policy in early January, after months of discussions following its bitter loss in the presidential election last year.
A new China policy, the party said, is necessary to convince voters that it can manage cross-strait relations better than the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), something that former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) failed to do in her presidential campaign. The discussion has also somehow become a tradition, as the party has always fine-tuned its China policy before every presidential election in the past.
Other than an almost unanimous agreement that the party needs to increase exchanges with Beijing, as it cannot afford to ignore the rapidly rising power, and that it should engage Chinese civil society and government, no consensus has been achieved.
While various initiatives, such as values-based engagement and diplomacy, were proposed and approved by most, the main argument still came down to the core issues of the DPP’s position on independence and the Republic of China (ROC).
At the center of the argument were three documents: the “Taiwan independence clause” in the DPP charter, the 1999 Resolution on Taiwan’s Future and the 2007 Resolution to Make Taiwan a Normal Country.
The Taiwan independence clause, which was added to the charter in 1991, listed establishing the Republic of Taiwan as the DPP’s formal goal. The 1999 resolution defined Taiwan as a sovereign country separate from China, while acknowledging the ROC as the country’s formal title.
The “normal country resolution” identified five abnormalities in Taiwan — international relations, the constitutional system, national identity, social justice and party competition — and advocated renaming the country Taiwan.
Most DPP members, whether moderate or hawkish on China policy, appeared to agree that the 1999 resolution, which did not mention Taiwanese independence, is the most acceptable among the three documents, while several moderates called for scrapping — or at least freezing — the independence clause and the normal country resolution because such “radical documents” could antagonize China.
Under the presumption that the DPP’s superior domestic governance would beat out the KMT, some also proposed that the party “move to the middle” or “shadow” the KMT’s China policy to win the presidential election.
However, the DPP first needs to address several key issues in its pursuit of a new China policy.
First, is there a “middle-of-the-road” position for the DPP’s China policy? Despite the 1999 resolution being seen as the most moderate position for the party, it is hard to imagine Beijing accepting “a sovereign country separate from China.” It is also extremely difficult for the DPP to accept the “one China” framework.
Second, will the DPP be bold enough to publicly abandon its support for independence and completely embrace the ROC to cater to Beijing’s goodwill?
Third, the DPP has to deal with the inconsistency between the three documents. Does the most recent resolution override the previous ones? The party has been vague about the significance of the three documents, with different explanations offered by different politicians.
Fourth, while the party seems to have agreed that its China policy will need to be “accepted by Washington and tolerated by Beijing,” it is difficult to imagine that a China policy based on promoting the universal values of human rights, democracy and freedom will be welcomed by Beijing.
Lastly, the DPP would love to maintain a certain degree of ambiguity on its policy to gain flexibility, but Beijing is likely to push it to be explicit.
Taiwanese tend to ignore China policy until election time. That is understandable at present, when many are struggling simply to make ends meet. However, with the growing influence of the China factor and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration’s overdependence on China, the formulation of the DPP’s China policy is arguably one of the most important issues over the next two years.
South China Sea exercises in July by two United States Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers reminds that Taiwan’s history since mid-1950, and as a free nation, is intertwined with that of the aircraft carrier. Eventually Taiwan will host aircraft carriers, either those built under its democratic government or those imposed on its territory by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). By September 1944, a lack of sufficient carrier airpower and land-based airpower persuaded US Army and Navy leaders to forgo an invasion to wrest Taiwan from Japanese control, thereby sparing Taiwanese considerable wartime destruction. But two
At the end of last month, Paraguayan Ambassador to Taiwan Marcial Bobadilla Guillen told a group of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators that his president had decided to maintain diplomatic ties with Taiwan, despite pressure from the Chinese government and local businesses who would like to see a switch to Beijing. This followed the Paraguayan Senate earlier this year voting against a proposal to establish ties with China in exchange for medical supplies. This constituted a double rebuke of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) diplomatic agenda in a six-month span from Taiwan’s only diplomatic ally in South America. Last year, Tuvalu rejected an
This year, India and Taiwan can look back on 25 years of so-called unofficial ties. This provides an occasion to ponder over how they can deepen collaboration and strengthen their relations. This reflection must be free from excitement and agitation caused by the ongoing China-US great power jostling as well as China’s aggressive actions against many of its neighbors, including India. It must be based on long-term trends in bilateral engagement. To begin with, India and Taiwan, thus far, have had relations constituted by various activities, but what needs to be thought about now is whether they can transform their ties
As Taiwan is engulfed in worries about Chinese infiltration, news reports have revealed that power inverters made by China’s Huawei Technologies Co are used in the solar panels on the top of the Legislative Yuan’s Zhenjiang House (鎮江會館) on Zhenjiang Street in Taipei. However, what is even more worrying is that Taiwan’s new national electronic identification card (eID) has been subcontracted to the French security firm and eID maker Idemia, which has not only cooperated with the Chinese Public Security Bureau to manufacture eIDs in China, but also makes the new identification cards being issued in Hong Kong. There might be more