Wed, Aug 08, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan’s imagined community

By Jerome Keating

With the November nine-in-one elections a scant four months away, voters will have many questions to put to the candidates.

However, there is also a national question that should be asked: “What is your position on and/or your interpretation of the so-called ‘1992 consensus?’”

That might seem a strange question, since voters traditionally ask about each candidate’s platform, but there is merit here.

Everyone in Taiwan is familiar with the bogus “1992 consensus,” invented by then-Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2000.

It has been bandied about so repeatedly that it has become a household term, which makes it a good litmus test for anyone holding office, because it reflects each person’s concept of the imagined community that makes up Taiwan.

The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) standard position is that the “1992 consensus” was an agreement between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) that there is only “one China,” with the PRC and ROC having different interpretations of what “China” means. Included in the KMT discourse is that both it and the PRC also agree that Taiwan is part of that “one China.”

Skip here the reality that the PRC has never accepted the KMT’s position that there can be two interpretations. That fact in itself denies any consensus.

For the PRC, there is only one position: There is one China under the PRC and Taiwan is a part of that one China.

Since there never was any consensus, this makes the question about the “1992 consensus” a clear way to separate the wheat from the chaff regarding the imagined community of Taiwan. It is a way for voters to find out just how Taiwan-centric a candidate is and much more.

No self-respecting Taiwanese would claim that the boundaries of their nation include any land in continental China, even if it remains in the outdated Constitution brought over from China. To make that claim is tantamount to saying that the KMT never lost the Chinese Civil War. This then leads to an examination of the true diaspora status of the KMT.

Review the timeline leading to the San Francisco Peace Treaty and Taiwan’s limbo status. World War II ended in August 1945 with Japan’s surrender. In China, the war between the KMT and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) continued until the CCP’s victory and establishment of the PRC in 1949, when the KMT fled to Taiwan.

In 1951, 48 nations signed the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which went into effect in 1952. In the treaty, Japan gave up all rights to Taiwan, which it had gotten from the Qing Dynasty in the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki. The treaty never specified a recipient, leaving it open so that Taiwanese could be the sovereigns under the UN’s rules of self-determination.

Neither the KMT nor the CCP were invited to or participated in the signing. This means that the KMT in its flight to Taiwan was a “colonizing diaspora,” since the San Francisco treaty never ceded Taiwan to the KMT or the ROC.

In this context of ambiguity and with the reality of Taiwan’s democracy, it is appropriate to examine the extended six-point description of diaspora in a changing world posited by political scientist William Safran in his 1991 article “Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return.”

In the article, which predates the “1992 consensus,” Safran suggests how Walker Connor’s traditional definition could be extended to fit other expatriate minority communities. He lists six potential shared characteristics that can be examined vis-a-vis the KMT.

This story has been viewed 2845 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top