Wed, Jul 25, 2018 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Solid foundation for cross-strait ties

Following Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong’s (陳明通) speech in Washington on Wednesday last week, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Liu Jieyi (劉結一) reiterated the “one China” principle, adding that saying one thing, but doing another is not acceptable, and that Beijing would continue to judge people both by what they say and what they do.

Former Mainland Affairs Council deputy minister Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), who was also in Washington, responded by saying that “saying one thing and doing another” seems to be exactly what Beijing likes to hear.

Putting aside what exactly Beijing likes, it is important to understand that the deadlock in cross-strait relations originates from China’s insistence on the making the “one China” principle the political foundation for cross-strait relations.

At the moment, China does not make any concessions, and it is intensifying its intimidation by sending ships and aircraft to patrol the waters around Taiwan and holding live-fire exercises. Because of this, it is being condemned by Washington for destroying the “status quo.”

Chen has instead revealed something that Beijing is willing to listen to.

Hopefully, he is saying one thing and doing another, rather than doing what Beijing wants, otherwise China’s principles will never change, while Taiwan’s principles will continue to bend to Beijing, which will think its threats are working.

For instance, Chen mentioned in his speech that since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office, she has “consistently handled cross-strait relations with pragmatism.”

He also said that she has “respected the historical fact of the cross-strait talks in 1992, as well as the joint acknowledgment of seeking common ground, while reserving differences to promote the peaceful and stable development of cross-strait relations. In this regard, our position has been consistent and firm.”

“Taiwan’s democratic principle and democratic will” that Chen quoted is the cornerstone of the Taiwan-US alliance of values. This foundation not only draws a bottom line for cross-strait relations, it is also the key to determining the nation’s status.

The difference between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party lies in their attitudes toward “Taiwan’s democratic principles and democratic will.”

For the public, democracy is no longer only “a way of life, taken for granted,” as Chen said, it is now part of the answer Taiwanese give to the identity-related question: “Who am I?”

Part of the reason that a Taiwan-centered government has achieved full control of the government’s executive and legislative branches is the public’s yearning for a normalized nation and the backlash against the bullying of that vision by the two Chinese parties — the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party.

The key to improving cross-strait relations that Chen mentioned in his speech is whether Beijing will renounce the use of force against Taiwan, which would be “most helpful,” as US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Randall Schriver said.

If China is unwilling to do this, then no matter how hard the Tsai administration tries to meet Beijing’s approach of “listening to what Taiwan says and see what it does,” it will only be surrendering to China’s threats.

Taiwan-US relations have improved with the passage of the US’ National Defense Authorization Act and the Taiwan Travel Act, the increasing rank of US officials visiting Taiwan, and Taiwan being treated as a democratic model for the Indo-Pacific region. This all sets up a beneficial environment for a Taiwan-centered government’s maintenance of the cross-strait “status quo” and march toward normalizing its status as an independent state.

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