The preamble of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China reads: “Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.”
This unrealistic and irrational claim by China — bizarre, frankly — lies at the foundation of strongman Chinese President Xi Jinping’s ( 習近平) New Year’s message that China’s annexation of Taiwan is imminent.
In a long address at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on Wednesday last week, Xi said that the “reunification” of China and Taiwan must be realized under the “one China” principle.
Xi said that the unification of China and Taiwan is “the great trend of history,” claimed that Taiwan’s status is not up for any kind of negotiation and held out a Hong Kong-style “one country, two systems” model for Taiwan.
“We do not promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option to use all necessary measures” to achieve this goal, Xi added.
Xi warned that China reserved the option of using force if Taiwan would not go along.
He also said that, even though reality dictates that Taiwan and China are two separate, sovereign countries, “the Taiwan question” is a Chinese internal affair and he would not tolerate “foreign interference” (read: US interference).
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) responded brilliantly and quickly, saying: “Taiwan will never accept the ‘one China, two systems’ formula, and the vast majority of Taiwan’s people are firmly opposed to the approach designed by Beijing.”
Tsai specifically stated that the development of cross-Taiwan Strait relations must be based on “four musts.”
She said the Chinese government must recognize the existence of the Republic of China; respect the commitment of Taiwan’s 23 million citizens to freedom and democracy; peacefully handle cross-strait differences “on a basis of equality”; and only negotiate directly with the Taiwanese government or government-authorized representatives.
“Cross-strait exchanges must be healthy and normal,” she added. “They cannot depend on vague political preconditions or forced submission to passwords.”
Tsai continued by vowing to set up a security network for cross-strait exchanges, consisting of three parts: securing people’s livelihoods, protecting democracy in cross-strait interactions, and strengthening information security against threats of cyberattacks and disinformation.
She added that she has never accepted the so-called “1992 consensus” and would never do so, because it is tantamount to the “one China, two systems” formula devised by China to bring Taiwan under its control.
The “1992 consensus” refers to a verbal agreement reached in 1992 between the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of Taiwan and Chinese Communist Party officials that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is only “one China,” with each side free to interpret what “China” means.
Never mind that in 2006, then-KMT legislator Su Chi (蘇起), who coined the phrase, admitted that he had made the whole “1992 consensus” term up in 2000.
In response to Xi’s threats, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said that Taiwan would not accept an offer to talk with an authoritarian regime that is determined to stamp out Taiwan’s sovereignty.
It added that Taiwan is prepared to safeguard its dignity and sovereignty.
The implementation of the “one country, two systems” framework in Hong Kong has deprived Hong Kongers of freedom and the rule of law — something the Taiwanese public would never accept, the MAC said.
China’s “one China” principle is evil. It needs to be relegated to the dustbin of history now.
With the new US Congress in place, the time is now for the US to challenge China’s “one China” principle.” The Congress must adopt and codify the following policy statements:
The US acknowledges Taiwanese authorities’ legitimate representation of a democracy of 23.5 million people; it will ensure any resolution of the future of Taiwan be done peacefully and with the assent of the people of Taiwan, and; it encourages both sides of the Taiwan Strait to carry out constructive dialogue without preconditions.
While Tsai was carefully navigating Taiwan through these troubled waters, on Thursday last week Presidential Office adviser Wu Li-pei (吳澧培), former Presidential Office adviser Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) and the Reverend Kao Chun-ming (高俊明) published “An Open Letter to President Tsai — Please Do Not Seek Re-election.”
I want to emphasize that I have always respected these four Taiwanese independence movement leaders and still do, even after they published the letter, but President Tsai has our complete confidence. She has earned and deserves our full support.
She is the only person today who can lead Taiwan across the murky waters that it has found itself in over the past decades.
In a 1864 speech, then-US president Abraham Lincoln recounted the story of an old Dutch farmer who remarked to a companion once that “it was not best to swap horses when crossing streams.”
The Taiwanese public and Taiwanese Americans should learn from the US’ greatest president.
Mike Kuo is president of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs.
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