The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a landslide victory in the Nov. 29 nine-in-one elections, an indication it could perform well in next year’s presidential election. However, its cross-strait policies are often regarded as the DPP’s Achilles’ heel. The DPP must come up with a new discourse on cross-strait policies before the election.
The DPP must establish three policy objectives: Win the presidency, garner the majority of seats in the legislature for its governance to be effective and establish a stable and peaceful relationship with China. To accomplish these goals, three principles must be followed — the DPP’s cross-strait policy should be one that Taiwanese are happy with, the US can accept and Beijing can tolerate.
I would therefore like to propose four cross-strait policies for the DPP’s reference.
First, freeze the Taiwan independence clause and pass a “resolution on the Republic of China (ROC).” Former DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said publicly last year that the DPP’s stance on cross-strait policies was in line with the party’s 1999 “Resolution on Taiwan’s Future” (台灣前途決議文), and the most important task for the time being was nation-building, not Taiwanese independence.
The DPP should pass the “resolution on the ROC,” thus achieving a consensus that the ROC is Taiwan and Taiwan is the ROC. The DPP should stress that Taiwan is a de facto independent country, and its name is the Republic of China. The DPP should stop attempting to rename the country or create a Republic of Taiwan, as this would resolve disputes between pro-unification and pro-independence factions, lessen the internal strife between the ruling and opposition parties and lay the foundation upon which the DPP can have a more expansive relationship with China.
Taiwanese wish to maintain a stable cross-strait relationship without giving up on Taiwan’s sovereignty and values. Rather than upholding the Taiwan independence clause, hardcore DPP supporters should think about adjusting their stance, a move that could not only help them uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty and values, but also win elections and implement policies. This would be both pragmatic and wise.
The DPP must demonstrate that it can be trusted with the defense of Taiwan’s sovereignty and values, as well as the facilitation of sustainable cross-strait development.
Second, the DPP should sign the “agreement for democratic decisionmaking for the future of the nation” and set up a cross-strait peaceful development committee. For Taiwan and China to establish a sustainable and peaceful developmental framework, political negotiations are necessary, which would be possible if a consensus could be reached inside Taiwan, as Taiwan would then have the ability to push for cross-strait reconciliation.
In order to reduce internal conflict, the pan-blue and pan-green parties must sign the aforementioned agreement, which would consolidate Taiwan’s consensus in cross-strait exchanges and give Taiwan a bargaining chip in negotiations with China.
To form consensus and trust among the ruling and opposition parties, a systematic mechanism for interaction must be established. Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) once suggested having a cross-strait peaceful development committee in the Presidential Office. The DPP should push for the establishment of such a committee to serve as a platform for the ruling and opposition parties to dialogue and develop mutual trust. This committee would consolidate a consensus within Taiwan and further cross-strait development.
Third, “two constitutions, different interpretations” should be established as the consensus among the Taiwanese and the Chinese for cross-strait development. This concept, proposed by former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), means that Taiwan and China have different constitutions and different systems, and that the territory both constitutions lay claim to overlaps.
The ROC Constitution governs Taiwan, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) governs China. According to the ROC Constitution, Taiwan and China have a special relationship in that Taiwan is governed by the ROC and China is not. However, Taiwan and China are equally autonomous states and neither is a part of the other.
The ROC Constitution maintains Taiwanese sovereignty, but has a rather ambiguous “one China” aspect. This makes it possible to consolidate a consensus within Taiwan and set up a platform for cross-strait exchanges. It can facilitate the continuance of the “status quo” that is welcomed by the global community.
Fourth, ideologies of “democratic China” and the “Han Chinese identity” should be used to connect Taiwanese and Chinese societies for peace and prosperity. Cross-strait reconciliation and peace must be placed upon a solid foundation across societies on both sides so that sustainable peace and prosperity are viable.
Democracy should be the paramount principle in determining cross-strait relations, and it is the only way to go beyond pro-unification and pro-independence ideologies and the only way to settle the disputes between both camps. As long as Taiwanese agree, unification could be an option. However, by letting “democracy” precede “unification,” Taiwan’s core values and interests are protected, and all the while “unification” becomes a driving force for Chinese democratization. A democratized China would fundamentally resolve the cross-strait problem at its root.
Lastly, cross-strait interactions and emotional bonds should be built upon the identification with the “Han Chinese identity.” Taiwanese, Chinese and overseas Chinese are all Han Chinese (sic). This identity can explain the perplexing history, cultures, ancestry, languages and emotional bonds across both countries, and can further comprehensive cooperation based on mutual interests.
Tung Chen-yuan is a professor at National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Development Studies.
Translated by Ethan Zhan
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