Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus whip Ker Chien-ming’s (柯建銘) proposal to facilitate cross-strait dialogue by freezing the party’s so-called “Taiwan independence clause” was again the subject of debate among academics and party members yesterday, with former DPP lawmaker Julian Kuo (郭正亮) and National Chengchi University professor Tung Cheng-yuan (童振源) supporting the initiative.
Most DPP members, including Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), oppose the proposal, which was submitted by Ker at a meeting to discuss the party’s China policy on Thursday, saying that it betrays the party’s founding spirit.
DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) voiced his opposition to the plan on Facebook, saying that it “reflected the DPP’s dilemma over safeguarding Taiwan’s sovereignty, while fostering DPP-Chinese Communist Party dialogue, as well as its predicament of determining what its position is amid increasing bilateral exchanges.”
“The DPP wants better relations with Beijing, but has been hawkish on almost every cross-strait issue in the legislature,” Tuan said.
Kuo disagreed, writing in a post on Facebook and in a column on news site formosa.com that freezing the clause would help stabilize cross-strait ties because, by leaving certain options open, it “hints that the DPP could change the ‘status quo’ by staging a referendum on the nation’s name if it returns to power.”
Kuo urged party members to look at the proposal as a temporary freeze aimed “only at trying to rule out that establishing a new country is the only option [for the DPP],” rather than as a call to abolish the clause.
Citing anonymous sources, Kuo said the initiative represented more than just Ker’s “personal opinion” because the caucus whip had held private discussions with high-ranking party officials before he presented it on Thursday.
The proposal was likely tabled as a response to Beijing’s opposition to the “constitutionalism consensus,” which is tipped to become the DPP’s foundation for cross-strait engagement pending a series of meetings to decide the issue, Kuo added.
Tung praised Ker’s initiative as “the first step toward promoting cross-strait reconciliation” as the independence charter, which aims to establish the Republic of Taiwan (ROT), is “unfit for the current political situation and does not serve the nation’s interests.”
The professor, who served as Mainland Affairs Council deputy vice chairman during the former DPP administration, said that the “democratic Republic of China system,” which functions like all the other democracies, is the consensus of Taiwanese.
“In other words, the legitimacy of the Republic of China has been widely accepted,” he added.
The clause could mislead the public into thinking that the DPP would draft a new Constitution and push for the establishment of the ROT if it returns to power, Tung said, adding that the party neither has the desire nor the capability to establish the independent republic.
DPP Central Executive Committee member Hung Chi-kune (洪智坤) said that the party has fallen into a trap, because dialogue with the Chinese Communist Party will not happen unless Beijing accepts the DPP’s ideology and political assertions. However, the essential issue should be how the DPP can best approach engagement with the Chinese party, Hung said.
“There are other solutions to this dilemma. Safeguarding Taiwan’s sovereignty and ensuring cross-strait peace should not be on the different ends of the spectrum in a zero-sum game,” he said.
The necessity of freezing the clause is debatable, Hung said.
“If more than 70 percent of respondents prefer eventually having an independent Taiwan [as seen in a recent poll], then why is Taiwan independence a box office bomb?” he added.
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