The controversies of the so-called two-state doctrine and “1992 consensus” have again been whipped up. The point of discussion this time is what seems to be a curious exchange of roles — in the recent trend of muckraking of the presidential candidates’ past remarks on the cross-strait relationship — traditionally assumed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). However, a deeper look reveals how well political parties have been adapting to a democratized society, or not.
That KMT presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) in 2000 — the year the DPP unexpectedly won the presidency for the first time — in his capacity as a KMT legislator had publicly backed the “special state-to-state relationship” between Taiwan and China advocated by former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) has recently been dug up. Some are quick to compare that to DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) recognition of “one China, different interpretations” in 2000 in her then-capacity as Mainland Affairs Council minister.
The result of cross-strait talks in 1992 that the KMT now calls a “consensus,” Tsai then called a “process” during which “it was our stance that ‘one China’ is respectively interpreted,” according to the Legislative Yuan’s general assembly record.
Meanwhile, Chu had lauded Lee’s “special state-to-state relationship” as a “clear and safe” positioning of the “current” cross-strait relationship.
He called it “ridiculous” to be trapped by a “non-existent question of ‘one China’” when there exists a People’s Republic of China and also a Republic of China.
It is true that politicians can and do change their attitudes over time, but it is noteworthy that neither of these statements referred to a “consensus” between China and Taiwan, a term former MAC chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted that he had made up in 2000.
Tsai at the time referred to the “1992 spirit,” which was to continue cross-strait exchanges and dialogue and put aside disputes, and said that although the “one China” question should not be avoided, “the government, when it comes to the future of the nation, should not presuppose a stance or a conclusion, but synchronize its policy with Taiwan’s public opinion.”
That the future of Taiwan should be decided by the people of Taiwan is none other than the DPP’s Resolution on Taiwan’s Future, and the idea was raised again in Sunday’s debate when she said that the so-called “1992 consensus” could be “one of the options,” but not the only option.
However, Tsai is not the only one upholding it. President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) endorsed the idea that Taiwan’s future is to be decided by the Taiwanese in 2008 and again last year, and so did Chu earlier this year.
This raises the question why the KMT is now so desperate to force Tsai to bow to the “1992 consensus” as the “foundation” of the cross-strait relationship, when straitjacketing Taiwan with the “one China” framework clearly contradicts the idea that Taiwanese should be the ones who decide Taiwan’s future.
The manufacturing of the “consensus” as the KMT’s cross-strait policy shows that the KMT is more concerned about losing its status as the sole negotiator with bargaining leverage against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) than respecting what Taiwanese want. It happily played into the hands of the CCP when Beijing used the “friendliness” it has shown the KMT since 2000 to punish those who resist what China arbitrarily decides for Taiwan.
The fact is that the “1992 consensus” does not have the public’s support, according to opinion polls, and we will see how the KMT bargains with China this time should it become the opposition party again.
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