Sat, Mar 07, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Public debunks ‘status quo’ myth

By Michael Hsiao 蕭新煌

In the poll, 85.4 percent of respondents said that the “status quo” meant different countries on either side of the Taiwan Strait. Similarly, a Taiwan Thinktank poll conducted last year revealed that 57 percent of Taiwanese did not want to see Taiwan moving toward the “one country, two systems” formulation unilaterally advocated by Beijing. Put in more concrete terms, any suggestion of leaning toward unification with China would be a serious breakdown of the “status quo.”

On the questions of whether to declare Taiwanese independence or to drop ROC as the official name in favor of Taiwan, Taiwanese also tended to say that those are for Taiwan to decide, not China. Therefore, the idea of refusing unification with China, or versing it as “rejecting unification,” “opposing unification” or “no unification” are all clear expressions of the preferred way to maintain the “status quo.”

If public opinion is in favor of maintaining the nation’s autonomy and independence, clearly any suggestion of “one country, two systems” is unacceptable. Furthermore, when the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — under pressure from the PRC and hoping to secure the vanity project of a meeting between Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) — declared that it would not promote the idea of two Chinas, or of China and Taiwan as different nations, it was inappropriate. Such a declaration went counter to mainstream public opinion. Even more so, the formulation of “one country, two areas” as a definition of cross-strait relations is a heinous transgression. Only Taiwanese can decide the nation’s future.

The idea that the nation’s future is to be decided by “all Chinese,” or as “a joint decision by all the people on either side of the strait” is destructive, while public opinion is firmly against it. Therefore, Taiwanese will absolutely not countenance any joint attempt by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to unilaterally sacrifice Taiwan’s future.

Perhaps some parties or politicians will point out that the current incarnation of the Constitution retains the assumption that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to a single country, and this is the reason behind the Ma administration’s insistence on using this as a foundation for leaning toward China.

However, understanding public opinion is one of the weapons with which this myth can be debunked and perhaps become a catalyst for amendments to the Constitution. The parts that are out-of-date can be amended to better reflect reality, so that the Constitution can protect the “status quo” rather than being used as a tool certain people can use to manipulate the situation.

Michael Hsiao is director of Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology.

Translated by Paul Cooper

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