Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians and the Chinese government have been stressing the importance of the so-called “1992 consensus,” but this might just be a sign that the KMT has no good cards to play, as a recent opinion poll showed that it did not appear to be a major concern for most voters.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said last month that maintaining the “status quo” would be her China policy, while at the same time declining to recognize the “1992 consensus,” which is an alleged understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
Meanwhile, several KMT politicians, including Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), Presidential Office spokesperson Charles Chen (陳以信), Mainland Affairs Council Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), have stressed the importance of the “1992 consensus.” Moreover, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has echoed KMT leaders by reiterating that the “1992 consensus” is the key to cross-strait exchanges.
In response to the criticism, Tsai said that they do not understand what Taiwanese really care about, and public sentiment seems to back her up.
On Wednesday, at almost the same time as Ma was criticizing Tsai’s cross-strait agenda, the Taiwan Brain Trust released a series of opinion poll results, showing that 74.1 percent of people support Tsai’s China policy, 51.2 percent are confident that the DPP would be able to maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait, 68 percent believe that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent state and 52.2 percent — 59.3 percent of whom are working in China or have relatives working in China — said that the DPP should not accept the “1992 consensus.”
The poll also indicated that most people believe domestic affairs, such as economic development and social justice, are the most important issues for next year’s presidential election, while cross-strait relations ranked only as the fourth-most important issue.
In addition, on Thursday, poll results released by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research showed that 56.9 percent of people regard cross-strait relations as “state-to-state” relations. The poll results seem to support Tsai’s policies regarding relations with China.
Ideas about developing cross-strait relations in the minds of KMT leaders, especially Ma, differ from the public’s. For the KMT, cross-strait relations are a nationalistic issue: It is about the “Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait” belonging to one big family, and that they must eventually be unified. However, most Taiwanese voters are concerned about cross-strait relations because they do not want a war with China, and they believe that peaceful and stable cross-strait relations might help bring some economic benefits.
Ma was elected president seven years ago after promising that he would bring about economic prosperity by developing cross-strait relations. He has obviously failed to fulfill his promise. Voters gave the KMT a chance, but the KMT failed to keep its word, and now many people are turning to the DPP.
No matter how Tsai tries to explain the DPP’s position, voters know that the party is more pro-independence, while the KMT is more in favor of unification. The KMT still does not know what the problem is, and tries to attract the public with its tired political ideology. If the KMT continues to campaign along these weary lines, it will surely get found out at next year’s legislative elections.