The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) does not have to change its China policy and accept the so-called “1992 consensus” following its loss in last week’s presidential election, an Australian political analyst familiar with Taiwanese politics said.
“The DPP does need to re--examine its China policy, but it does not have to change its fundamental position that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country,” Bruce Jacobs, a professor at Monash University of Australia, said in an interview with the Taipei Times on Wednesday.
While many have argued that the DPP has to review its position on the “1992 consensus” and its “Taiwan independence clause” following the defeat, Jacobs, who has been observing Taiwanese politics since the 1970s, did not agree.
The “constitutional one China” initiative advocated by former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is “vague,” he said.
The “1992 consensus,” invented by former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2000, was not mentioned until former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) brought it up during the legislative elections in 2001 and put it in the bilateral agreement between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2005.
Beijing has always maintained that the “one China” principle is a precondition of the consensus, Jacobs said.
“However, former presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) were able to advance bilateral exchange without the consensus,” he said.
The professor, who was the first foreign academic to observe vote-buying in Taiwan in his doctoral thesis in the 1970s, cited the example of relations between Australia and New Zealand and said that two countries can enjoy extensive economic ties without political integration.
Turning to the presidential election last week, Jacobs said that DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) may have suffered from mismanagement of her campaign personnel and relations with party factions.
Without giving names, he said Tsai’s small decision-making circle had been monopolized by three female aides, who turned down interview requests from the Washington Post and the Financial Times because the journalists were deemed “unfriendly.”
The New Frontier Foundation, the DPP’s think tank, also declined to collaborate with other think tanks, such as the Taiwan Brain Trust, which is sponsored by Taiwanese independence advocate Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), citing competition, Jacobs said.
“Tsai is an extraordinary person who has made great contributions to the DPP, but it’s essential for her to listen to different voices,” Jacobs said, adding that her campaign “had put too many outstanding persons on the sidelines.”
It also appeared that Tsai’s relationship with various factions worsened as the campaign progressed, he said.
Factionalism within the DPP has always been a major issue, but it is manageable, he said.
There are factions in various parties in Australia, but they are able to collaborate by putting the interests of the country and the party above those of their factions.
Having observed the elections for 30 days, Jacobs said that compared with the development of Taiwan’s democracy, the judicial system and the media in Taiwan “have a long way to go and have to catch up.”
Judicial inaction and a lack of media impartiality are both concerns, he said.
Taiwan may not be a -superpower, but it ranks among the -“second-tier” countries, such as Italy and France, in terms of population and economic size, he said, adding that the international community often ignores this fact.