When Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Jan. 2 linked the so-called “1992 consensus” to “one China” and the “one country, two systems” model, it reduced it to nothing but a means of self-comfort and self-deception.
Regrettably, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) issued a hackneyed response and played word games in an attempt to avoid embarrassment, instead of facing the challenge head on.
Former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), both former KMT chairmen, as well as KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), exclude “one country, two systems” from the “1992 consensus” in a bid to prove its legitimacy and have said that “one country, two systems” was added by Xi and is not part of it.
This logic has been part of the KMT’s concept of “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” for more than two decades. KMT officials recognize “one China” while in China and then embrace “different interpretations” when they return home, adapting their position to who they are talking to.
How can they continue this approach after Xi’s speech?
As Xi destroyed the “1992 consensus,” perhaps the KMT should demand a direct confrontation with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), rather than continue to force Taiwanese to accept a nonexistent “consensus.”
However, judging from the KMT’s separation of the “one country, two systems” formula from the “1992 consensus,” it is evident that it also opposes “one China, two systems,” which is in line with mainstream Taiwanese opinion.
On closer scrutiny, why is there a need for two systems in one country, and how can one country contain two systems?
Then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) promised that “horse races will go on and night clubs will stay open” in Hong Kong after the 1997 handover, although what Hong Kongers really want is for the two systems to protect their freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law — four components missing in China. How can Beijing possibly guarantee something that it does not even have itself?
The owner of Causeway Bay Books disappeared, Hong Kongers are deprived of their rights to political participation and songs by Anthony Wong (黃耀明) and lyrics by Albert Leung (林夕) are banned. Such practices — common in China — are happening in Hong Kong, too.
A farm woman in the countryside prepared a banquet for some city people, who complained about flies over the food. When the woman heard the complaint, she said that the guests were too stingy, because flies do not eat much.
For China — the farm woman — there is no need to make a fuss about such trifling matters as arresting a book dealer, imprisoning a few people or banning a few CDs. After all, everyone else is doing perfectly fine.
Thus, “one country, two systems” is but a gateway to “one country, one system.” China is large enough to hold its prey in its mouth without swallowing it whole. People might be able to live in its mouth and believe that there are two systems in one country, but Beijing will start chewing sooner or later. It would be too late when the pain hits as it becomes clear that there was only ever one system.
The same logic applies to moving from the “1992 consensus” to “one China” and “one country, two systems” — and to invitations to participate in democratic talks. There are many such gateways — they are all deceptions and could close at any time. Let the wise person beware if an invitation is made to enter.
Lai Jwei-chin is a freelance writer.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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