Thu, Jun 13, 2019 - Page 8 News List

A chance at peace across the Strait

By David Pendery 潘大為

The issue of whether Taiwan should sign a peace agreement with China to end the Chinese Civil War and bring cessation to hostilities between the Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been in the news of late. That the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have to this day not settled their differences is troubling, and in large part unprecedented in international affairs.

I am reminded of the US Civil War, which did come to terms. To be sure, the reunification of the Confederate States of America and the United States of America — a major accomplishment in US affairs — would be a sticking point in the debate over Taiwan, the citizens of which for the most part desire no such unification — although the point is arguable, and there are Taiwanese who do desire a permanent union with China.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) recently said that if elected next year, a KMT government would be “within its rights” to sign a peace agreement (“Wu Den-yih says KMT could sign peace treaty if it regains presidency next year,” Feb. 15, page 1).

This is a simplistic, mechanical view that does not consider what it could mean for Taiwan, China and the world, and fails to examine the advantages and/or difficulties a peace agreement would engender.

Of course, the PRC in all likelihood would not sign any such agreement with the ROC, given the state of affairs and lack of recognition between the two. The KMT needs to see this truth before it can in any way move forward: Just as much as the PRC, the ROC is not actually in any position to do much of anything in terms of a covenant.

This lack of recognition of the international status of the ROC by the PRC, particularly, makes the whole enterprise seem unlikely. That could end the discussion outright — and could end my comments here as well.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Johnny Lin (林琮盛) has said: “Wu’s so-called cross-strait peace treaty cannot guarantee peace; Taiwan’s sovereignty is the only foundation for building peace and stability.”

This need not necessarily be true and is in essence a limited view. One form of peace agreement or another could be based on Taiwan/the ROC’s sovereignty, and were this allowed and agreed to, a breakthrough could be near.

Yet again we must add: “If the PRC would agree;” but this might not be an impossibility, although to what extent this would indicate “one country, two systems” is a factor.

Chang Kuo-tsai (張國財), another observer in this debate, has said that such an agreement would be “pointless,” citing tired military “principles” and just-as-tired historicity in terms of peace agreements made with the Nazis in the 1930s.

These agreements were hollow and futile, but have little relevance in today’s world. The 21st century is definitely not a world of such brutal, violent dictatorships, although there are those who would argue that the PRC is very much such a state.

“Would such a move bring peace? Or would it consign Taiwanese to servitude?” Chang asked, but this is going too far and looking at the idea in the most negative light (“Signing a peace deal with China is pointless,” June 5, page 8).

Lo Cheng-chung (羅承宗) has said that “as the frequent movement of goods and people has shown, a state of peace already prevails across the Taiwan Strait” (“Cross-strait peace treaty unnecessary, academic says,” Feb. 20, page 3).

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