A new proposal to bring Taiwan and China together as a single country, but with separate central governments, has failed to gain much traction with lawmakers.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators opposed the idea published by a Chinese academic with the US-based Brookings Institution, a public policy think tank, earlier this month.
Tsinghua University professor Chu Shulong (楚樹龍) proposed that Taiwan and China accept and recognize each other as separate “central governments” within a “one China” framework — a move that he said would pave the way for more stable political relations.
Calling mutual non--recognition a “dilemma and a pity,” Chu said that both sides should “accept and work with the facts that there are two equal-level governments within the current framework.” This way, he said, both sides could refer to each other as a “normal government” and officials by their official titles.
Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday that it had no comment on the proposal from Chu, who, according to his biography, is also a professor at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Party School and a former director at a state-run research institute.
Media reports in Taiwan called the proposal “one country, two central governments” (一國兩府), in reference to Beijing’s “one country, two systems” (一國兩制) idea.
Chu’s proposal, one of several that have been devised in an attempt to resolve the cross-strait standoff, fell short of public expectations, said KMT lawmakers, who advised more support for the “status quo,” consistent with cross-strait policy under President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Taiwan and China should continue to work on resolving cross-strait differences, “which will require China’s democratization,” KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said. “China must become democratic to the stage that people can make their own decisions ... in order to completely erase cross-strait political differences.”
KMT Legislator Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) said the idea “fell short of public expectations.”
The Chinese-language United Daily News quoted Chu as saying that he believed Chinese and Taiwanese officials had already aligned themselves with his proposal “in many different ways,” although no substantial measures had yet been taken.
In his paper for Brookings, Chu added that if re-elected next year, Ma — to whom he did not refer by his official title of president — would face “raised expectations” in Beijing for the start of political talks and the establishment of a long-term framework for peace, stability and development.
However, Chu was careful to say that if talks took place, they “would not progress to reunification until far into the future.”
DPP lawmakers seized on the remarks as an indication that the Ma administration’s reliance on the “one China” principle and so-called “1992 consensus” had left the door wide open to new interpretations on what “one China” meant.
DPP Legislator Gao Jyh-peng (高志鵬) said Chu’s proposal was “testing the waters” to measure the level of acceptance in Taiwan.
“It’s the same unification battle, but given a makeover. This isn’t the first time that proposals like this have been floated,” Gao said. “‘One country, two central governments’ does nothing to break away from the restrictions imposed by ‘one China.’ To accept such a plan would be degrading and tantamount to falling into China’s trap.”
DPP Legislator Tsai Huang--liang (蔡煌瑯) added: “Taiwan needs to stay strong and assert its own sovereignty.”
Former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) first proposed the “one country, two systems” model, which both the KMT and DPP reject, as part of Beijing’s unification efforts in the early 1980s ahead of the scheduled return of Hong Kong and Macau. There have been growing signs that Beijing could offer an updated version for Taiwan amid warming cross-strait ties and increased exchanges.
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