Academics from both sides of the Taiwan Strait butted heads yesterday over cross-strait political dialogue, with Chinese academics saying political dialogue must be addressed soon, while their Taiwanese counterparts said political talks could commence only after China has democratized.
The eighth annual Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Cross-Taiwan Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum opened on Saturday with a series of keynote speeches by cross-strait academics on how to establish mutual trust and political dialogue.
The meeting started with a surprise, as Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman Jia Qinglin (賈慶林) gave a clear definition of the “one China” framework.
“Mainland [China] and Taiwan both belong to one country, so the relationship of both sides of the Taiwan Strait is not a nation-to-nation relationship,” Jia said.
This was the first time Jia, or any Chinese official, had provided such a clear definition of the “one China” framework, with academics saying this was a crucial point because China was evidently taking the framework one step forward.
Prior to this year’s meeting, China only stressed that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belonged to “one China.”
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Taiwan Studies director Yu Keli (余克禮) said that in the long term, China would find it hard to accept President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) “Three Noes” policy.
The policy refers to Ma’s statement of “no unification, no independence and no use of force” and it is currently the guiding principle that the Ma administration uses to define its cross-strait policy.
Chinese academics also said that Ma would have to flesh out his definition of “One China” or cross-strait political trust would be impossible to establish in the next decade.
However, Taiwanese academics said that Jia’s reference to “Two Sides, One Country (兩岸一國)” denigrated Taiwan’s sovereignty and added that the bottom line for political dialogue was that the Republic of China (ROC) was a sovereign country and that China must democratize.
Both sides also differed on political dialogue, with National Society of Taiwan Studies secretary-general Zhou Zhihuai (周至懷) saying that political dialogue was the key to institutionalizing cross-strait peace.
Such dialogue is inevitable and the KMT cannot always play the “If we talk about this, we lose the elections,” card, Zhou said, adding: “If everything depended on a public vote, the wrongs of history would never be put right.”
Peking University’s Institute of Taiwan Studies head Lee Yihu (李義虎) said Taiwan never showed any willingness to resolve issues by coming to the table, despite its constant gripes about the need to resolve issues of international space and national defense concerns.
The strong need for Taiwan to resolve these issues would form a sort of reverse transmission, prompting both sides of the Taiwan Strait into political dialogue, Lee said.
Meanwhile, Tamkang University Graduate Institute of China studies professor Chao Chun-shan (趙春山) said the influences on both societies on either side of the Strait were beyond the management of political forces.
Only by sharing the same values could cross-strait peace be institutionalized, Chao said.
However, Taipei City Councilor Chin Hui-chu (秦慧珠) said that although there were proponents pushing for cross-strait dialogue to be established as soon as possible, it was telling how Ma’s election campaign faltered as soon as he brought the issue up prior to the presidential election on Jan. 14.