EDITORIAL: Time Ma, Beijing forget ‘one China’

Tue, Mar 29, 2016 - Page 8

Never has it been as obvious that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and China are singing the same tune they have been for the past two months, with their urging of president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to accept the so-called “1992 consensus” as the basis for the development of cross-strait relations.

In an interview with CNN published on Saturday, Ma said that when developing relations with China, “we have to establish a mutually accepted consensus so that this relationship will move ahead peacefully and smoothly,” adding that he hopes his successor “will think carefully about supporting the ‘1992 consensus,’ allowing cross-strait ties to move ahead smoothly.”

Ma’s remarks came after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) on Thursday last week referred to the “vital importance of the 1992 consensus,” saying: “The foundation known as the 1992 consensus cannot only maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait, but also be beneficial for people on both sides.”

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) on Thursday last week said that China’s goodwill is reflected in its insistence on the “1992 consensus,” while many people might recall Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) recent reiteration that cross-strait relations must be based on the foundation of the “1992 consensus,” or else “the trust between China and Taiwan will cease to exist and the cross-strait relationship will revert to a state of turbulence.”

The “1992 consensus” — which refers to a supposed understanding reached during cross-strait talks in 1992 that both Taiwan and China acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means — has become an ubiquitous term among both Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) officials and Chinese officials, despite former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitting he had made up the term in 2000 before the KMT handed over power to the Democratic Progressive Party.

Ma’s and Beijing’s clinching to the fictitious consensus is just as absurd as their insistence on the illusion that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to “one China.”

They would be well advised to look at a poll released earlier this month by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research that showed most people in Taiwan reject such a construction in describing cross-strait relations.

The poll showed an overwhelming 81.6 percent of respondents are opposed to the statement that “one China” refers to the People’s Republic of China; and when asked if “one China” refers to the Republic of China, 60 percent of respondents also rejected the notion that both sides belong to “one China.”

Surveys by National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center have shown a growing number of people refer to themselves as “Taiwanese,” whereas a poll conducted by the Chinese-language United Daily News showed that most people in Taiwan favor perpetual maintenance of the cross-strait “status quo.”

In other words, despite growing interactions between people from either side of the Taiwan Strait in recent years, maintaining the “status quo” is the wish of a majority of Taiwanese, who identify themselves as “Taiwanese.”

By senselessly clinging to the fictitious cross-strait consensus of “one China, different interpretations,” China is likely to fuel resentment among Taiwanese, just as the KMT has found itself being marginalized by Taiwanese.

Beijing often says that it “places its hope in the people of Taiwan.” If it means what it says, then it should stop obstinately holding on to the illusional “one China” concept.

By respecting that a majority of Taiwanese identify themselves as Taiwanese and reject the notion that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to “one China,” Beijing might just find the key to winning over Taiwanese hearts sooner than the KMT.