Beijing is using the divide-and-conquer strategy against Taiwan as a group of Taiwanese government officials allowed themselves to become the tools of Beijing’s “united front” tactics aimed at bringing Taiwan into China’s fold.
A Taiwanese delegation comprised of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and independent heads of local governments or their deputies on Sunday met with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲) and ostensibly discussed tourism and trade-related issues. During their meeting Zhang reiterated the so-called “1992 consensus” as the political foundation for cross-strait exchanges and negotiation.
Zhang’s statements were obviously meant for President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who, along with her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), have rejected the existence of the agreement that her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), claims refers to an understanding reached during cross-strait talks in 1992 that both Taiwan and China acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
This is not the first time that Beijing has used the divide-and-conquer strategy to undermine the authority of the Taiwanese government.
China first used the trick in 2000, after Taiwan went through its first transition of power when it elected the DPP’s Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to the Presidential Office. At the time, Beijing bypassed the Chen administration and dealt only with members of the opposition.
Just as Beijing pointed at Chen’s refusal to accept the “1992 consensus” as “the real problem” hampering cross-strait development and dialogue, it is now blaming the Tsai administration’s refusal to recognize the “1992 consensus” for bringing cross-strait exchanges to a halt, including the decline in the number of Chinese tourists to Taiwan.
While it is regrettable that eight Taiwanese local government heads chose to cooperate with Beijing in its ploy to marginalize the Tsai administration and sow discord among the Taiwanese public to divide it into factions that recognize the “1992 consensus” and those do not recognize it — a choice between economic opportunity and discrimination — it is even more beyond comprehension to see China’s peremptory nature.
Rather than trying to strong-arm the Tsai government toward recognizing the “1992 consensus,” Chinese officials should instead ask themselves the following question: Why does the Tsai government refuse to accept that the “1992 consensus” exists?
If Beijing looks hard enough, it would see that the answers are crystal clear.
First, there is the confession from former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006, saying that he made up the term in 2000 before the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) handed the government over to the DPP.
Opinion polls have also shown that the majority of Taiwanese are opposed to the “1992 consensus.”
Beijing has itself to blame, because if it agrees to both sides having their own interpretation of what “one China” means, then why does it make a fuss about Taiwanese waving the Republic of China flag at international events and strive to prevent Taiwan from obtaining membership in international organizations under the name Republic of China?
Beijing does not recognize that both sides have their own interpretations of what “one China” means as the KMT claims in the “1992 consensus”; rather, Beijing recognizes only one essence in the “1992 consensus,” which is the “one China” principle.
Beijing’s insincerity and political trickery under the pretense of the make-believe “1992 consensus” is the real stumbling block to the improvement of cross-strait relations.
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