Debate within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) about the so-called “1992 consensus” began right after DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) loss in the presidential election and has continued throughout the Lunar New Year break, as the party tries to determine if it should fine-tune its China policy to appeal to voters, DPP politicians and analysts said.
The “1992 consensus” was seen as one of the crucial factors in the Jan. 14 presidential election, which gave President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) a second four-year term.
The “1992 consensus” is only a part of cross-strait relations and it did not directly contribute to the DPP’s loss in the election, former DPP legislator Lin Cho-shui (林濁水) said.
The DPP should not accept the fictional consensus simply because of the loss, because that would only lend legitimacy to the KMT stance on the matter, Lin said.
However, the party does need to reconsider its position on the “1992 consensus” after weighing gains and losses in the three areas of sovereignty, security and trade, Lin said.
As for the “Taiwan Consensus,” an initiative proposed by Tsai, Lin said that it stressed the democratic nature of the process, but was less detailed in its content, which was the voters’ main concern about it.
“Tsai could easily have said that the content of the ‘Taiwan consensus’ means ‘The Republic of China [ROC] is Taiwan and Taiwan is the ROC’ — one of her major statements in the campaign. I have no idea why she did not make the connection,” he said.
Former DPP legislator Kuo Cheng-liang (郭正亮) was among those who said the DPP should accept the “1992 consensus” to at least some extent or find ways to work around the consensus, since the DPP has yet to propose any solution for engaging China without the “1992 consensus.”
The DPP must change its stance on cross-strait affairs because both China and the US favor the KMT’s approach, as shown by their preference for Ma in the presidential election, Kuo said.
Kuo said the DPP should review its policy on Taiwanese independence, its tolerance for the “one China with different interpretations” framework and whether to replace a “Taiwan consensus” with a “constitutional consensus.”
The party could also interpret the “1992 consensus” as “a platform to set aside disputes, without any timetable” to foster possible dialogue with Beijing, he said.
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) also labeled the “Taiwan consensus” as “weak and vague,” saying that the DPP’s “1999 Resolution on Taiwan’s Future,” which defines Taiwan as a sovereign country separate from China, while acknowledging the ROC as the country’s formal title, would be better for explaining the party’s China policy.
Regardless of what the DPP’s plan to deal with the “1992 consensus” is, the election should not be interpreted as “a victory and Taiwanese people’s endorsement of the consensus,” Soochow University professor Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said.
The “1992 consensus” is too weak to sustain bilateral engagement over the next four years and Beijing could step up its pressure for political negotiations, Lo said.
Tsai has not made any comments on the matter since the election. She has pledged to submit a complete review of the election campaign to the party before March 1, when her resignation as party chair takes effect.