EDITORIAL: Ma’s call to ‘unification’

Fri, Nov 09, 2018 - Page 8

It did not come as a surprise that former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) — known for his fixation on his legacy — entrusted a foundation named after him to hold a forum to remind the public that it was the third anniversary of his historic meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).

What was surprising was the message he tried to send Beijing through the forum on Wednesday.

Given the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) dwindling influence in politics, which has been exacerbated by the government’s ongoing efforts to recover assets the party acquired during its one-party rule, the Xi administration appears to have given up hope of relying on the KMT to further its agenda of unification.

The flagship annual forum between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has not been held since the previous one in Beijing in November 2016, a departure from the CCP’s practice of cozying up to the KMT when the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is in power to make life more difficult for the governing party.

Against this backdrop, Ma proposed a new “three noes” policy, calling it the best option to maintain cross-strait peace. They are: no exclusion of the possibility of unification, no independence and no use of force.

It appears to be a slight revision of the “three noes” policy that he proposed in 2007 when he was running for president, pledging to maintain a cross-strait policy of “no unification, no independence and no use of force.”

The difference between the two policies might just be a few words, but in light of the speculation that Ma might take advantage of his resurgent popularity to make a run at a third presidential term, it could signal a drastic change in the KMT’s cross-strait policy — from supporting the “status quo” to being open to the idea of unification.

By saying that Taiwan should not rule out unification, Ma is telling the CCP that such an option is on the table and that its best chance of realizing its ultimate goal of a “unified China” is by betting on the KMT again.

Ma’s stance not only shows the party’s inability to see that China is an enemy and Taiwanese must unite to fend off its aggression, but also underscores his hypocrisy, as well as the KMT’s.

In October 2015, the KMT forced then-deputy legislative speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) to give up her presidential candidacy on the grounds that her support for unification ran counter to mainstream public opinion.

Moreover, given that Beijing has never publicly backed Ma’s story that the so-called “1992 consensus” includes a tacit agreement that each side is free to interpret what “one China” means, Ma’s compromise on the unification issue reeks of desperation and could make it even more difficult for the DPP administration to protect the nation from Beijing’s “one China” shackles.

It is a warning that voters should heed if they are thinking of teaching the DPP a lesson by voting in support of the KMT in the Nov. 24 nine-in-one elections. The consequences might be severe and long-lasting.