Tue, Nov 24, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Redefining Taiwan’s ‘status quo’

By Tung Chen-yuan 童振源

As for the DPP’s past dissatisfaction with aspects of the ROC Constitution — and the party’s desire to hold a referendum on amending it— Tsai’s stated position is to adhere to mainstream public opinion, which supports maintaining the “status quo.”

Tsai has also said that she would also adhere to the Constitution and respect the more than 20 years of negotiations, exchanges and interaction that has taken place between the two sides in order to uphold Taiwan’s free and democratic way of life, and guarantee continued peace and stability across the Strait.

Ma defines the “status quo” through the lens of the past seven-and-a-half years of exchanges and interaction between the two sides. Thus, Ma believes that if a future DPP government does not recognize the “1992 consensus,” then the current “status quo” — in terms of exchanges and interaction with China — would not be maintainable.

Beijing says non-recognition of the “1992 consensus” would cause a tectonic shift in the cross-strait relationship and herald a return to the old ways of conflict between the two sides.

Ma defines the “status quo” in terms of what he has been able to achieve via his cross-strait policy. However, during his second term in office, the approval rating for his cross-strait policy has been less than 30 percent and the public’s dissatisfaction with his policy has reached as high as 60 percent, according to polls.

In order to distinguish between different methods for maintaining the “status quo,” one must first clearly define what the “status quo” involves. Tsai’s definition is fairly close to what the public understands and wants to see.

In addition, Tsai’s policy of maintaining the “status quo” would in itself provide a crucial method to further guarantee peace and stability across the Strait.

Ma’s and Beijing’s position — that the “1992 consensus” must be maintained as a foundation for cross-strait exchange and interaction — does not enjoy the support of the majority of Taiwanese, and as such it is not the kind of “status quo” that Tsai would be able to maintain.

Tung Chen-yuan is a distinguished professor at National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Development Studies.

Translated by Edward Jones

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