Over the past seven years, the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) China policy has made it possible for several historic agreements between Taiwan and China to be signed.
However, the KMT has made a major political mistake by not having continuously adjusted its China policies in line with the current political development in Taiwan. Consequently, the KMT’s China policy is a failure that provides poor policy direction for future challenges, because it does not offer a coherent and timely formula for handling both China and Taiwan at the same time, contrary to the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party.
In order to regain credibility, the KMT needs a new comprehensive China policy, which embraces the wishes of Taiwanese.
The KMT’s China policy is weak because it has no answers to social or political developments. It is too detached from everyday problems, such as stagnant wages, increased inequality, youth unemployment and democratic development. A China policy that neglects important domestic issues is not sustainable. It creates sociopolitical problems that are likely to challenge cross-strait relations, which is already the case.
The KMT has to explain how its China policy can create trust in cross-strait relations among Taiwanese, as mistrust contributed greatly to its crushing defeat in November last year’s nine-in-one elections.
How can the KMT avoid an overdependence on China, and ensure improved living standards in Taiwan? How can the KMT ratify the service trade agreement that has been stalled in the Legislative Yuan since the Sunflower movement’s occupation of the main chamber? Can the KMT ensure more transparency in the monitoring of trade agreements between Taiwan and China?
A reality check reveals that the so-called “1992-consensus” and thus the foundation of the KMT’s China policy cannot solve these issues and this paralyzes cross-strait relations.
The “1992 consensus,” a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
The KMT’s China policy is not even beneficial to China. Solid and sustainable agreements that can last longer than one single government should be China’s core interest in the coming years in order to build trust. This requires Taiwan to have a government with a pragmatic and peaceful China policy, based on the “status quo,” which clearly benefits Taiwanese. Moreover, it demands healthy political processes in Taiwan.
It is embarrassing that the KMT has not been able to develop an innovative and convincing new China policy, despite being in office for seven years. The current political climate has developed over years, but the KMT seems to have been trapped in a cross-strait bubble, in which all other arguments against the current policy have been ignored and treated as insignificant disturbances that are unlikely to change the overall direction. New policies could have been developed by listening to Taiwanese and allowing new ideas to flourish.
Those who continue to praise the “1992 consensus” and the KMT’s current China policy do not understand political developments over the past four years. The economic integration between Taiwan and China has a strong impact on political developments and vice versa.
Therefore, such supporters should start considering better alternatives in the opposition. The KMT’s current China policy has passed its expiry date.
Michael Danielsen is chairman of Taiwan Corner.
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