At an expanded meeting of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) China Affairs Committee on Thursday last week, DPP legislative caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said that the party’s cross-strait policies need to fit in with mainstream Taiwanese public opinion, and they must also be able to convince China and the international community.
Ker said that the DPP must come up with policy standpoints that will help it get back into government, facilitate interaction between the DPP and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and promote peaceful development on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Ker suggested that the DPP should freeze the Taiwan independence clause in its charter, since that would be the only way to promote dialogue and mutual confidence between the DPP and the CCP and remove obstacles standing in the way of the DPP’s return to government, thereby allowing it to promote peaceful cross-strait development.
If the DPP approves Ker’s suggestion, it will have taken its first step toward finding a peaceful resolution to cross-strait relations.
The Taiwan independence clause is no longer in line with the political landscape.
When the DPP adopted the clause in 1991, Taiwan was not yet a democracy, so the DPP advocated writing a new constitution and establishing a Republic of Taiwan, subject to a referendum.
However, following the advent of democracy, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in her former role as DPP chairperson, said that the Republic of China (ROC) and Taiwan were one and the same.
Her successor, current DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), also said that Taiwan, through its democratization, is already a sovereign and independent nation.
If Taiwan is already a sovereign and independent country, and Taiwan and the ROC are two sides of the same coin, then there is by now very little justification or need to establish a Republic of Taiwan.
Moreover, the clause is not in keeping with Taiwan’s national interests. Taiwan is a sovereign independent nation whose national title is the ROC, and its sovereignty belongs to the 23 million people who live in this country.
This is the common understanding of Taiwan’s governing and opposition parties and also the general consensus of public opinion. In addition, it represents the actual situation of cross-strait peace and stability.
However, the DPP’s Taiwan independence clause could give the public the mistaken impression that after the party returns to government, it will write a new constitution in an attempt to establish the Republic of Taiwan.
The public worries that such a measure would cause the existing state of peace between China and Taiwan to break down. It would also provide China with an excuse to pressure the DPP government.
When former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was first sworn in back in 2000, he assured the international community that he would not declare independence or alter the national title during his term in office.
Su, for his part, said that today’s most important task is national construction.
As can be seen, the DPP in government did not display any desire to push for a new constitution or the changing of national title.
Nonetheless, something is still causing the public to worry that the DPP would do those things if it were voted back into government.
In reality, the DPP is not just unwilling, but also incapable of pressing toward de jure independence for Taiwan.