During the New Year holiday independent presidential candidate James Soong (
Soong repeatedly emphasized that no one is willing to accept communist rule, and no one is willing to start a war with China. Soong even quoted US President John Kennedy's famous words: "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."
His use of this quote tells us that either Soong has not grasped the nature of the cross-strait problem or he is deliberately being misleading.
The main problem in cross-strait relations is that the Republic of China on Taiwan wants to protect its independence and sovereignty, in other words, the status quo. However, China does not recognize Taiwan's sovereignty and wants to change the status quo. For this purpose, China is willing to settle for nominal sovereignty over Taiwan and then gradually obtain substantive rule through the "one China, two systems" arrangement.
Many people are willing to sacrifice their lives to protect Taiwan's sovereignty. Currently, the entire army is standing by to protect our national sovereignty. How can anyone be mistaken about what the problem is by stating that "no one is willing to start a war with China?" Is Soong tactfully propagandizing anti-war ideologies and pacifism?
The greatest question about the dispute between China and Taiwan is whether negotiation is of any use, rather than whether one is willing to negotiate. Soong was, either deliberately or unintentionally, being misleading about the core problem.
China's insistance on negotiating with the "one China, two system" principle as a precondition of negotiations violates the principle of equality. There is no need to negotiate, since it will not accomplish anything. In contrast, if two sides respectively advocate the "one China, two systems" arrangement and the "special state-to-state relation," then there is room for negotiation.
After the CNN interview, Soong submitted a few additional points. He indicated that importance should be attached to participation in the TMD (theater missile defense) and the purchase of high-capability fighter jets -- a change from his initial stance in opposition to those two points, for which he was the target of much criticism.
He also touched upon the establishment of a bilateral "hotline" which has been long advocated by others, the prevention of military conflict and the signing of a peace agreement. Soong's advocacy of international monitoring of the signing of an agreement was thereafter opposed by Beijing in the media.
Soong also proposed that Taiwan seek a mutually beneficial and supplementary integration with China. Although Soong stressed that the integration would not damage Taiwan's status as an independent country, the statement undoubtedly made many people feel deeply concerned about Taiwan's security. After the proposed integration, China may not rely on Taiwan when in need, but the opposite may not be true.
Soong must "speak clearly and directly" (
Finally Soong said that "any major decision about the country's future cannot possibly be made by a political leader alone, and the support and agree-ment of the 22.6 million Taiwan-ese people must be sought."
However, the reality is that people cannot participate in a public referendum everyday and that the legislature cannot possibly be in session everyday. The expansion of executive power is therefore the universal trend.
US President Bill Clinton's declaration of the "three no's policy" immediately skewed the balance of the triangular relationship between the US, China and Taiwan. President Lee Teng-hui (
During his term as provincial governor, Soong won legislators' support by offering them financial aid. With the help of more money, plus executive power and the support of the military, public opinion and the legislature would hardly be a match for Soong once he is elected president.
If Soong pushes for direct air links, the establishment of cross-strait supplementary integration and perhaps even a "boldly go west" policy, would the legislators be able to oppose him?
According to a media interview, the reaction of China' experts on Taiwan policy to the Soong interview was, "China insists on the one China policy and opposes the signing of a peace agreement under international supervision." Interestingly, officials on the Chinese side said that "just like US presidents, Taiwan's presidential candidates may say one thing before the election and do another thing afterwards just to get votes."
Soong's past statements about cross-strait issues have been criticized by the Mainland Affairs Council as being "two-faced" (saying one thing for local consumption and the opposite for overseas consumption).
According to a Chinese researcher, a "quasi-international relationship between two mutually exclusive sovereignties (
Soong's position blurred Taiwan's goal of protecting its national sovereignty. If Soong becomes the president, he does not need to amend the existing constitution and laws. With his authority as the commander in chief and control over the executive power, he can turn Taiwan into Hong Kong by merely pandering to Beijing.
Lin Yu-hsiang is the deputy director of the KMT's Central Committee's Department of Policy Research.
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