Shih Ming-teh (施明德), a former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman who has since severed ties with the party, said the public has the right to know ahead of January’s presidential election whether President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is seeking re-election, plans to undertake political negotiations with China if elected to a second term in office.
Shih made the remarks in an interview with the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) on Tuesday.
In the interview, Shih questioned Ma’s policy of “no unification, no independence and no armed conflict,” saying that Ma had never said where he got that idea from.
According to Shih, the concept was brought up in 1998 by Kenneth Lieberthal, who expressed the hope that Taiwan and China would agree to sign an “interim agreement” that stated both sides would agree to unify in five decades, at which time Taiwan would declare itself part of China.
While saying he agreed with Lieberthal’s view that conflicts should be resolved through negotiation, Shih said such negotiation needed to be conducted as equals and without preconditions, whereas Lierberthal’s proposition came with both preconditions and a specific goal.
Shih said he had three doubts concerning Ma’s policy of “no unification, no independence and no armed conflict.”
First, because Ma does not endorse “unification” or “independence,” “then is the Republic of China (ROC) an independent and sovereign country? What is Taiwan?”
Saying that no country in the world has a “past” and “future,” but no “present,” Shih said that blurring the national status of the ROC or Taiwan is extremely detrimental to the ROC.
“Ma should loudly declare to the People’s Republic of China (PRC): ‘Yes or No.’ And not just whisper it to Taiwanese when an election comes up,” Shih said.
Shih said it would be preferable if the “no unification” and “no armed conflict” promises were made by the PRC to Taiwan and the world.
“What right does Ma have to make these two guarantees for the Chinese government? Are the guarantees valid? Can the people of Taiwan believe in them? Is the promise of ‘no independence’ based on Ma’s own initiative and does it involve abandoning the ROC or Taiwan’s right of sovereign independence prior to negotiations?” Shih asked.
“If that is the price paid for the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), then it is an act tantamount to treason, and not something beneficial to Taiwanese,” Shih added.
Shih said his second doubt stemmed from Ma’s apparent reluctance to quote Lieberthal as the source of his “three noes” policy because he has used them so many times. Answering his own question, Shih said that the reason for Ma’s reticence was that Lieberthal had wanted Taiwan to become part of China.
Ma would rather implement Lieberthal’s pro-China position in a more tactical way, as evidenced by the government’s declaration in February that from now on official documents should not refer to China as “China” but rather “Mainland China,” Shih said, adding that Ma even used the phrase “prior to unification” from the ROC Constitution to support his stance.
“This shows that Ma entertains the thought of ‘ultimate unification’ even before negotiations,” Shih said.
This claim would not only ignore the fact that “Taiwan is a sovereign independent country,” it would also trample on “the independent sovereignty of the ROC,” Shih said.