President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) must be feeling on the defensive about his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平). On Nov. 22, he even went so far as to publish an op-ed in USA Today, in which he outlined his rationale for the meeting, emphasizing that adherence to the [so-called] “1992 consensus” is now “the master plan for peace in the Taiwan Strait.”
The problem with this rationale is that the “1992 consensus” is an extremely feeble basis for at least two reasons: its vague definition — what are the “different interpretations”? — and the fact that it severely restricts Taiwan’s options. The basic premise underlying Ma and Xi’s “1992 consensus” is clearly “unification with China,” and that premise has been soundly rejected by the overwhelming majority of Taiwanese.
In the newspaper article, Ma lauded the Nov. 7 Singapore meeting, saying: “For the first time, leaders of the two sides formally endorsed the 1992 consensus.”
It is certain that one of those leaders — Ma — did not represent the democratic wishes of his nation, while the other is the ruler of an authoritarian dictatorial regime, so there is also considerable doubt that Xi really represents his people.
In an opinion poll conducted by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research after the Singapore meeting, distrust of Ma was indicated by an overwhelming 60 percent of respondents, while only 27 percent said they trusted him.
Xi fared even worse: 62.9 percent said they distrusted him, while only 17.9 percent said they trusted him, according to the poll.
In the article, Ma said that “domestically, I aimed to establish a transparent process that people can trust.”
The major problem with Ma’s reign over the past few years has been its lack of transparency, and adequate checks and balances.
Time and again, he moved ahead on issues without adequate consultation with the Legislative Yuan. Time and again he attempted to push Taiwan into a closer embrace with China, against the expressed wishes of a large majority of Taiwanese. This has led to trust in Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to fall an all-time low.
It is also ironic to see that in the USA Today article, Ma said that “this meeting also marked the first time our side directly conveyed to the mainland side our deep concerns about military deployment against Taiwan, as well as Taiwan’s squeezed international space.”
Really? Ma has been in office for almost eight years now, and this is the first time that such concerns have been expressed?
These two problems have been around for decades, and it is not until now that Ma sees an opportunity to convey his concerns? In that case he has surely been grossly negligent in his duties to defend national sovereignty and interests. Those concerns should have been expressed on the first day he took office.
What Ma is attempting to do is actually endangering peace in the Taiwan Strait by locking Taiwan into a trajectory that binds it more closely to a repressive and undemocratic China.
True peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait can only be achieved if the People’s Republic of China can be convinced to accept Taiwan as a free and democratic neighbor, and the international community can welcome this vibrant democracy as a full and equal member of the international family of nations.
Mark Kao is president of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, a Taiwanese-American grassroots organization in Washington.