In recent days, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have all been busy with their own cross-strait gambles.
The DPP has been pushing for a change in its cross-strait policy and has restored its China affairs department; former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) has twice been to China to discuss the definition of cross-strait relations with the CCP; while the KMT government mobilized 1,300 police officers to welcome Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) to Taiwan.
In Beijing, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman Jia Qinglin (賈慶林) announced “a new version” of the definition of cross-strait relations by saying that the core of the “one China” framework is the view that China and Taiwan are part of the same country and that cross-strait relations are not to be viewed as state-to-state in nature.
In addition, the CCP and the KMT have been using the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and ARATS to make a focused push for talks on the recently concluded cross-strait investment protection pact.
Due to the unique character and makeup of the Chinese government, it, the CCP and Chinese experts about Taiwan all have essentially the same view of the central leadership’s policies and its cooperation with the KMT to direct criticism toward the DPP.
However, internal opinion in the DPP varies greatly when it comes to the DPP’s own central leadership, the CCP and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policies.
There are also many diverging opinions within the KMT when it comes to the CCP and even the party itself. Using the DPP as an example, there are widely diverging views within the party of Jia’s new definition of cross-strait relations.
During a debate at the DPP’s Central Standing Committee meeting last week, someone expressed the view that Jia’s statement was yet another attempt by the CCP to force Taiwan toward unification and to undermine the KMT’s view that there is only one China, with each side of the Taiwan Strait having its own interpretation of what “China” is, saying that it was a bad sign.
Someone else said that we shouldn’t always take a negative view of the CCP, while another said that compared with the past, Jia’s statement was neither positive nor negative.
In the KMT, there are also people who feel that the “one country” statement undermines the KMT’s “one China, different interpretations” view, while others think that it is better to talk about “one country” than “one China” and that avoiding mention of “one China” might leave more space for the Republic of China (ROC).
There are many diverging views of Jia’s statement in the KMT and the DPP, but unfortunately all these views fail to address the crucial point in Jia’s statement. If the CCP really does have a new position, that is not the replacement of “one China” with “one country,” but rather the replacement of the “one China principle” by the “one China framework.”
The “one China” principle has always been expressed as a three-step logic: There is only one China, Taiwan is a part of China and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the only legitimate Chinese government.
The KMT used to protest that it was unfair to only state that Taiwan was a part of China, and in August 2000, then-Chinese vice premier Qian Qichen (錢其琛) proposed a new three-step reasoning: There is only one China, the mainland and Taiwan are both part of China, and China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity cannot be compromised.
Internationally, the older reasoning remained in use, but the new reasoning was used in cross-strait relations, thus forming a new version of the “one China” principle and later being formalized when it was written into China’s “Anti-Secession” Law.
The KMT supports the “one China” principle, but because it is incompatible with the de facto separation of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, that position has met strong resistance in Taiwan.
As a result, the CCP has been considering replacing it with the less rigid “one China framework” in recent years. It is interesting to note that this new approach was first used as a test of the DPP by broaching it during former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) visit to the US, although Tsai all but ignored it.
Now this new definition has been officially declared a new policy by Jia at the KMT-CCP forum.
Indeed, “framework” sounds less rigid than “principle,” and it also appears that the view of historian Cheng Ching-jen (鄭欽仁) could be applied to this new wording. Cheng once said that “one China” could refer to China politically, historically or culturally.
After talking about the “one China framework,” Jia went on to define this framework as “one country” and in the same breath bringing up Wu’s statement that cross-strait relations are not state to state in nature. The “one China framework,” then, is not any different from the “one China principle.”
Viewing Jia’s statement in this context, Taiwan’s most appropriate response would be to criticize it and say that it is nothing but new wine in old bottles. Instead, there has been a hubbub of opinions from both the KMT and the DPP, not one of which has cut to the heart of the issue.
This is frightening, and it is probably a result of both parties getting caught up in formalistic thinking, which has made them lose the ability to evaluate and understand the actual situation.
Being faced with such a formidable adversary at this time puts Taiwan in the gravest danger.
Lin Cho-shui is a former Democratic Progressive Party legislator.
Translated by Perry Svensson