Thu, Jun 22, 2017 - Page 3 News List

ANALYSIS: Internal DPP conflicts over independence re-emerge

‘TAIWANIZED ROC’:Following a number of landslide electoral defeats, the DPP has learned that adopting a ‘centrist’ route is necessary to appease the public and China

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

Conflicts over narrative within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) about de jure and de facto independence and the necessity of the Republic of China (ROC) framework have resurfaced as cross-strait relations have deteriorated to their lowest point since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) assumed office in May last year and following the loss of one of the nation’s most important diplomatic allies to China.

Panama on June 13 shifted diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, a diplomatic fiasco that has sparked debate among the party’s pro-independence and “centrist” camps about the government’s China policy and the necessity of the ROC framework.

Former premier Yu Shyi-kun and presidential adviser Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) have “welcomed” Panama’s severance of diplomatic ties with Taipei, which they said would create room for Taiwan as “an independent sovereign state” unassociated with the ROC.

Both have said the ROC framework of competing with Beijing for representation of China is a burden that should be unloaded for the normalization of Taiwan, echoing comments by DPP politicians and pro-independence groups for years.

A “Taiwanese nationalist” proposal to scrap the ROC as a necessary step toward realizing Taiwan’s de jure statehood in a central idea entrenched in the so-called independence clause of the DPP’s charter, which seeks to make a new constitution and build a “Taiwan Republic.”

The pursuit of de jure independence was further solidified in the DPP’s 2007 Normal Country Resolution, which seeks to change the nation’s official title from “Republic of China” to “Taiwan,” draft a new constitution and seek UN membership under the name “Taiwan.”

The DPP has at times struggled with the pursuit of de jure independence, especially when it is at the helm of the government — under the ROC constitutional framework — and Yu and Koo’s pro-independence narrative has been contested within the party by a more centrist narrative that downplays the urgency of independence and highlights the strategic necessity of the ROC framework.

In a statement following the Panama debacle, Tsai reaffirmed the “existence of the ROC,” although in what might have been her sternest language to address Beijing.

“The ROC is a sovereign country, which is a fact that Beijing can never deny,” Tsai said.

Tsai, who helped draft the “two-states theory” in 1999 when she was an adviser to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), has repeatedly reiterated that maintaining the cross-strait “status quo” is her administration’s top priority.

Her acceptance of the ROC framework has also been implied by her refusal to relaunch an initiative of former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to join the UN under the name “Taiwan.”

Although there have been rumors within the party that Tsai is considering relaunching the initiative in September, it has been speculated that she would accommodate it within the ROC framework.

The acceptance of de facto independence and the hull of the ROC — endorsed by the DPP’s Resolution on Taiwan’s Future, which accepts the ROC constitutional framework and demands a referendum for any change to the “status quo” — is supported by centrist DPP members and even some independence advocates to varying degrees.

Recent comments by Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) might speak for the usually reticent Tsai.

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