The master of cross-strait relations - Taipei Times
Fri, Mar 04, 2016 - Page 8 News List

The master of cross-strait relations

By Michael Hsiao 蕭新煌

This also means that irrespective of the party in power, or the policies adopted, the way Beijing and the international community have been treating Taiwan has essentially been the same.

The Ma administration — whose eagerness to please Beijing has betrayed its pro-unification agenda — has leeched no more from China than the China-skeptic, pro-independence Chen administration. If Chen’s lack of cooperation provoked Beijing to bully Taiwan, Ma’s compliance encouraged it more so.

Beijing’s demand that Taiwan openly endorse its “one China” principle is a diversion to entrap Taiwan. Even if Taiwan agrees to such a principle, it would get nothing in return. Under such a principle, Taiwan would fall deeper under the influence of China, trapped like a bird in a cage.

Instead of assuming a passive role and focusing on appeasing Beijing with “appropriate” wording, the government should plan out an offensive strategy, which would entail expressing the Taiwanese vision for an equal and democratic cross-strait relationship, urging China to take responsibility for maintaining peace and ensuring mutually beneficial cross-strait developments.

This would be the only approach to Beijing, in line with the public will to be the master of its own fate. The previous two presidents defined cross-strait relations through negation, but their passive attitudes reinforced the unequal relationship.

Tsai should actively define the principles under which Taiwan would be willing to work with China, and the kind of “normal” relationship Taiwan hopes to establish with China.

The previous two presidents also flip-flopped, often changing their wording regarding cross-strait issues. Chen often indulged in provoking Beijing with impulsive words, whereas Ma would deliberately comply with Beijing’s demands, against the wishes of Taiwanese, only to be treated with contempt.

Hopefully, with her usual poise and prudence, Tsai will lead Taiwan to a more stable relationship with China. She should be consistent in her wording when dealing with cross-strait issues and avoid redefining or rephrasing important principles unless, after careful deliberation, she knows for sure that it could help improve Taiwan’s status and dignity.

Michael Hsiao is a researcher at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology.

Translated by Yu-an Tu

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