Hung’s dangerous China stance

By Tung Chen-yuan 童振源  / 

Wed, Jun 24, 2015 - Page 8

Deputy Legislative Speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) passed the required 30 percent approval rating threshold in the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential primary process and was nominated by the KMT’s Central Standing Committee as its candidate for next year’s presidential election, although the final decision remains to be made by the party’s national congress next month.

However, her cross-strait policy ideas are worrying. Hung is known for being outspoken, but at the same time she advocates “one China, same interpretation” and signing a cross-strait peace accord, which makes people wonder if she has the ability to resist China.

Hung thinks that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should agree on a “one China, same interpretation” standpoint. In other words, the two sides would share one common view of “one China” and they would express this viewpoint in the same way. In her opinion, the true de jure “status quo” of cross-strait relations is that the two sides’ territorial claims overlap, while they are governed by separate constitutions. In plain language, Taiwan and China are two constitutional governments within “one China.”

The problem is that China has never agreed to “one China, with different interpretations.” It is merely saving face for the KMT; it maintains the “one China” principle, while letting the KMT give whatever interpretation it wants in Taiwan. However, “one China, with different interpretations,” not to mention the Republic of China, must not be mentioned at venues where both nations are represented or at Chinese venues.

In fact, there is no consensus on “one China, different interpretations” across the Taiwan Strait. The Chinese government has never acknowledged it, and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office has on several occasions issued press releases and publicly renounced the idea, saying that China’s “Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits has never recognized and will never accept the so-called one China, different interpretations fabricated by Taiwanese authorities.”

President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has attempted to use “one China, different interpretations” to circumvent the “one China” principle and put off the political controversies surrounding cross-strait relations.

Until Taiwan can accept the “one China” principle, Beijing has focused on seeking common ground and putting aside differences to stabilize the cross-strait relationship. However, Hung is moving in the opposite direction, advocating that both sides should abide by the “one China, same interpretation” principle.

Hung has no idea how deceitful and precarious the cross-strait relationship is, and her ignorance would put Taiwan in a difficult and dangerous position.

China will of course accept Hung’s “one China, same interpretation,” only Hung’s definition of what that means would differ from Beijing’s, which upholds the “one China” principle: Both sides agree that there is only “one China,” and both sides are part of that “one China,” while Chinese territory and sovereignty are indivisible.

This is a political condition that is unlikely to be accepted by Taiwanese, and both the ruling and opposition parties, including Ma, who has said if there were only the “one China” principle, not “one China, with different interpretations,” he would not accept it.

When Hung advocates “one China, same interpretation,” China would surely force her to accept the “one China” principle. Without a domestic consensus and public support, how would Hung be able to withstand Beijing’s political pressure?

Furthermore, Hung said she would sign a cross-strait peace agreement to ensure peace in the Taiwan Strait and national security and to expand the nation’s participation on the global stage.

However, Taiwan and China have fundamentally different goals with regard to a peace agreement. Taiwan’s objectives are peace, security and global participation, whereas China sees a peace agreement only as a political expedient to achieving unification. Since Taiwanese cannot agree on the unification premise, an attempt by Hung to use an agreement to ensure peace in the Taiwan Strait, national security and global participation is wishful thinking.

There is insufficient agreement and mutual trust across the Taiwan Strait and in Taiwan there is insufficient agreement regarding a cross-strait peace agreement, while there remians a lack of public trust in the government. Negotiating a cross-strait peace agreement under these conditions would only compound political conflict and wreak havoc in Taiwan.

The difference in national strength between the two sides is increasing. If Taiwan is to accept the political principle of “one China, same interpretation” while Taiwan suffers from domestic turmoil, the nation will find itself in a disadvantageous position to negotiate a peace agreement with China.

It is highly probable that Taiwan would have to make considerable compromises under Chinese political and military pressure.

These fears are likely to be shared by the public. Even Ma did not dare push for “one China, same interpretation.” However, Hung has been quite firm with her advocacy.

Perhaps this is a display of her determination and charisma, but this is what would make people wonder if Hung would be able to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, interests and dignity should she win the presidential election.

Tung Chen-yuan is a distinguished professor at National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Development Studies.

Translated by Ethan Zhan