Tsai’s cross-strait outlook
Wednesday last week marked the first anniversary of the Sunflower movement. Taiwanese youth keep driving their energy toward social involvement and constitutional reform. The fundamental difference between younger Taiwanese and older generations is their sense of national identity. While some of the older generation still consider Taiwan to be part of China, most young people believe Taiwan is their nation — they hold a cross-section of blue and green beliefs — and Taiwan is their home.
That is why last year, then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) instructing KMT legislators to pass the cross-strait service trade agreement with China spawned the movement.
Ma believes that Taiwan is part of China — the Republic of China (ROC).
He has always said that Japan returned Taiwan’s sovereignty to the ROC under the Treaty of Taipei and that the ROC is the government that represents China — including the mainland and Mongolia.
Unfortunately, that is not true and history does not favor Ma’s interpretation.
In November last year, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) benefited from the Sunflower movement by winning the local elections in a landslide. Now, political attention is focused on DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). How will she interpret cross-strait relations? What are her thoughts on Taiwan’s “status quo”?
On March 4, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) attended the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference meeting, which emphasized that the so-called “1992 consensus” is the foundation of cross-strait political mutual trust.
As we know, the “1992 consensus” was made up by Su Chi (蘇起) in 2000, then minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, eight years after the 1992 Koo-Wang meetings between former Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) and China’s former Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits chairman Wang Daohan (汪道涵).
The “consensus” binds the ROC and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) into “one China” and both of them agree Taiwan is part of “China.”
However, there is another “one China” policy in which the US says that the PRC represents the whole of China and that Taiwan is not part of the ROC or the PRC under the three communiques and the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).
On Friday last week, former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) managing director Barbara Schrage attended a conference on Taiwan-US relations in Washington hosted by the Heritage Foundation, where she questioned Tsai’s plan for dealing with cross-strait issues.
Schrage said that Tsai’s presentation in 2012 was very disappointing.
Schrage’s critics referred to a fundamental issue of Taiwan’s status: Is Taiwan a nation? Yes, and the majority of Taiwanese insist that it is.
Is Taiwan a nation with sovereignty? No. That is why Taiwan has been denied membership in the UN.
Taiwan does not even have an official name and Constitution — how can it be recognized as a sovereign nation?
The ROC is not a recognized nation with sovereignty; it is only an exiled government kicked out by the PRC.
How can Tsai make her Washington visit successful this time?
She is a professional negotiator. She has the knowledge and wisdom to handle any sharp questions, if she just remembers the following: The US does not recognize the ROC under the TRA. Neither the ROC nor the PRC has sovereignty over Taiwan. Taiwan is more or less like East Timor or Cuba. Popular sovereignty is not equal to territorial sovereignty.
The Taiwan Relations Act and the San Francisco Peace Treaty are must-read documents for Tsai before her trip; I believe she will have a very pleasant and successful trip to the US.
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