Two weeks ago, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) met with Chinese President and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping (習近平).
According to Xi, Beijing will continue with the same working principles regarding Taiwan.
On the surface, it seems Xi’s words indicate that there will be no major changes in what Beijing authorities do about Taiwan in the short term at least.
However, relations between the KMT and the CCP have already progressed to the stage of political talks.
Crucially, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is now attempting to push Taiwan into Beijing’s “one China” framework in order to proceed with these political talks.
He seems to want at the very least to see the emergence of an irreversible situation during his tenure that will mean Taiwan is firmly in China’s grip, continuing even if the KMT loses power in the next presidential election.
The fact that Ma has been engineering this deceit is increasingly obvious. The difference now is he is no longer bothering to conceal it.
It only took China’s new Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) to say: “It might not be that easy to get the Taiwanese to accept the People’s Republic of China [PRC] at this moment in time,” for Ma to offer: “We cannot view the other side of the [Taiwan] Strait as a [separate] country.”
So, Ma is denying the territory he is governing is a country at all.
Over the past several months, he has time and again contended that “cross-strait relations are not a state-to-state relationship.”
Not only is this a huge retreat from former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) “special state-to-state relations” theory of cross-strait relations, or his successor Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) “one country on each side” policy, it also contradicts his very own idea of “mutual non-denial.”
From “mutual non-denial” to “self denial,” what he is doing is damaging Taiwan with a “denial of self,” and it extends even to the Republic of China (ROC).
The “nations of brotherhood” formula conceptualized by Taiwanese independence advocate Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) best illustrates a way in which a democratic Taiwan will accept the PRC.
Yet the problem with it lies in Zhang’s next statement: “It is also unlikely that China will ever accept the ROC, from any angle.”
Zhang’s comment echoes the same tone that Beijing has adopted toward Taiwan for many years now and reflects China’s despotic attitude.
Ma’s latest maneuver has nudged Taiwan down the irreversible path to “eventual unification” by stating relations between Taiwan and China are more of a domestic affair.
He has pushed the so-called “1992 consensus” further toward “one China,” throwing out any mention of “each side having its own interpretation” and replaced it with the “denial of self.”
The special legislative session to discuss setting up representative offices either side of the Taiwan Strait will be a major milestone in Ma’s trajectory in cross-strait relations.
Yet, if we apply the doctrine of “mutual non-denial,” the use of national flags, national emblems, the national anthem and the very name of the country within the official offices are all the physical expression of “each side having its own interpretation.”
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said something to this effect in April, but his comments were soon overturned by Ma.
The reason? Because cross-strait relations were “not state-to-state relations,” Ma said.
So, Wang quickly changed his tune, saying that it would be best to “shelve contentious issues,” but the fact of the matter is that Beijing will not allow “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan,” or indeed any proposal associated with the possibility that Taiwan or the ROC does not belong to the PRC.
The latest expression of this was the recent failed sister-city agreement between Greater Kaohsiung and the Maldivian capital, Male.
In the face of consistent attempts by China to eradicate Taiwan’s statehood, government and sovereignty, Ma’s original promise to the electorate to keep to “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” was at least accepted by voters who supported the concept of the ROC.
These voters believed that the “mutual non-denial” approach could be used between Taiwan and the PRC.
Yet, now that Ma has denied the very existence of the ROC by claiming that cross-strait relations are not state-to-state relations, voters can see through Ma’s machinations leaving even the most ardent ROC supporters feeling cheated and let down.
Ma’s deceit has finally been exposed.
His approval ratings currently stand at about 10 percent and he has lost the public’s trust in his ability to govern.
In terms of his ideology, his stance on Taiwan’s national identity is becoming increasingly divorced from that of the majority of the public and instead is increasingly married to that of Beijing.
The signing of the services trade agreement occurred without going through the necessary evaluation, with Ma’s government deciding that it would first discuss the details with the CCP and have it signed by the two parties before it was sent to the legislature for preliminary review.
Worse, with the establishment of the representative offices, the legislature is essentially signing a blank check, giving Beijing free rein to pick and choose as it pleases.
The representative office in Taiwan is likely to be used as a command center in the campaign for unification, or as a base for espionage.
Ma’s seven-point statement to Beijing, conveyed by Wu during his meeting with Xi, was designed purely as a show of loyalty, to allay Beijing’s concerns about Ma’s commitment.
Now in his second term, Ma has eyes only for his historical legacy.
In the few remaining years he has left in power, he is preoccupied with the idea of creating various means by which to set Taiwan on an irreversible course toward “one China.”
It is now even more obvious that the intention is to join forces with the CCP to control Taiwan.
Given Ma’s intention, Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) has made it clear that to prevent the CCP and KMT from realizing their plans, it is not enough for the opposition parties in Taiwan to set out their own stances: They also need to represent the voices of all Taiwanese.
If the governing party has any sense of duty it should not continue to give its chairman, whose popularity ratings hover not far above the 10 percent mark, free rein to do exactly as he pleases.
Translated by Paul Cooper