After obtaining absolute power for the first time, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is to hold a national congress next month. Recently, some party members proposed that based on the goal of maintaining the “status quo,” the DPP should adopt a new party charter to replace the pro-independence charter, the Resolution on Taiwan’s Future and the Normal Country Resolution. There might be ulterior motives behind the proposal.
At first glance, the proposal appears to support President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) replacing the charter and the two resolutions, but in fact it implies that Taiwanese independence is not the goal of the party. Instead of being a move toward promoting Taiwanese sovereignty, the proposal is backtracking to curry favor with China.
An increasing part of mainstream opinion is identifying with Taiwan and that change has pushed the DPP to the top of absolute power. At this historic turning point, some DPP members are still nurturing a regressive mindset, which makes people wonder if they forgot their voters after having been elected.
To put it bluntly, in terms of maintaining the “status quo,” the 1999 Resolutions on Taiwan’s Future set a lower standard: “Taiwan is a sovereign and independent nation. Any change in the independent ‘status quo’ must be decided by all the residents of Taiwan by means of plebiscite ... Taiwan is not a part of the People’s Republic of China [PRC].”
The resolutions also clearly state that “Taiwan, although named the Republic of China [ROC] under its current constitution, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the PRC.”
By comparison, the statements in the 2007 Resolution on a Normal Country and the party charter both set a higher standard, and the fundamental ideals of the party are in line with long-term trends among mainstream public opinion. If the party were to abolish the charter and the two resolutions now that it is in control of the government, it would raise the question of whether it is trying to adjust the “status quo” against the public will so that Tsai can follow former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policies, calling it “maintaining the status quo.”
Based on the rise of the view that Taiwanese independence is the natural state of affairs among the young generation, the DPP should of course continue to insist on moving toward normalizing Taiwan’s national status. It should not act as if it was suffering from Stockholm syndrome, in which captives begin to sympathize with their captors, by adjusting the independent “status quo” toward an ambiguous view of “one China.”
It is imaginable that if the party takes the first step toward replacing the party charter and the two resolutions, China would see that as a first step toward a policy that acknowledges that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to “one China” (同屬一中). Wanting more of the same, Beijing would likely continue to put pressure on the party and work to intensify disunity within the party and thus strengthen the forces that might tear it apart. If they can not beat the DPP, they will apply a more insidious trick and simply try to change it.
On the other hand, encouraged by Taiwanese awareness, the pro-independence movement in Hong Kong is growing. At a time when Hong Kongers are becoming increasingly united, it would be ironic if the DPP were to drift away from Taiwanese public opinion.
Judging from Tsai’s “1992 discourse” on the use of “Chinese Taipei” as Taiwan’s title and “Mainland China” as China’s title, people cannot help but be alert to the latest developments.
After replacing the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as the ruling party, will the DPP transform itself into a new version of the KMT? Will it inherit the KMT’s policy of “one China, with each side having its own interpretation,” and move toward the view that “both sides belong to ‘one China’”?
Judging from the Tsai administration’s actions to maintain the “status quo” in the past month or so, it is increasingly looking as if Ma’s prediction that Tsai would follow in his footsteps will be correct. People would rather believe that the actions are temporary tricks played to deceive the enemy, but if the DPP continues to try to replace the party charter and the two resolutions in the name of maintaining the “status quo,” the “Chinese Taipei DPP” would become the new public enemy. If that were to happen, those operating across the Taiwan Strait might have reason to form new cross-strait political-business vested interest groups.
In the past month, Taiwanese have not seen the earth move or the mountains shake in cross-strait relations, which are at most undergoing a “cold confrontation.”
Due to strategic conflict in the East and South China seas between the US and Japan on one hand and China on the other, the two sides’ fighters and warships are repeatedly confronting each other in these regions. In the face of the domestic and international situation, the government should not head in the wrong direction.
It should remember to maintain strategic flexibility to deceive an external enemy, not the Taiwanese public. In particular, the rapidly increasing power of civic society does not allow the government to yield to Beijing in everything, as the Ma administration did.
On the contrary, the Tsai administration is expected to maintain the “status quo” on independence, resuscitate a stagnant economy, remove the shackles that are holding the younger generation down, push for reform and transitional justice, and make Taiwan a normalized nation.
Is it wise to allow those operating across the Taiwan Strait to manipulate public opinion and clash with mainstream opinion now? While the old and reactionary politicians propose that the party charter and the two resolutions be changed, the Sunflower movement generation is supporting Taiwanese independence. Does the DPP want to move forward or lag behind?
In response to the proposal to replace the party charter and the two resolutions, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office urged the DPP to abandon Taiwanese independence. Whether that is done would be determined by Beijing. Even if the DPP makes repeated concessions, if Beijing decides that the DPP continues to be pro-independence, either indirectly or covertly, the party would have to continue its transformation into another version of the KMT. These are the rules of the game that is dominated by Beijing.
If the DPP is willing to be led by the nose and gradually become Chinese Taipei, it will look more like the KMT than the KMT itself. If that happens, civil society would gather its forces and fire back.
The six direct presidential elections that have taken place since 1996 have consolidated a Taiwanese identity and the idea that Taiwanese are their own masters has emerged. Although Ma was elected president twice, his eight-year presidency was a failure.
DPP members should not think that voters are easily fooled and they should not forget the miserable way in which they lost power eight years ago.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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