Talk of signing a cross-strait peace agreement has resurfaced among Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians since Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) Jan. 2 speech suggested that “both sides of the Strait can recommend representatives to begin democratic negotiation for an institutional arrangement on the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.”
Kao Yu-jen (高育仁), chairman of the 21st Century Foundation and the father-in-law of former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), who has declared his intention to run for president in 2020, on Jan. 5 proposed that academics from both sides of the Strait should settle on a “common cross-strait historical view,” from which both sides could negotiate and sign “a 50-year or 100-year peace agreement.”
Following suit, KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) on Thursday last week said that if the KMT regains the presidency, the government would hold talks with Beijing on a peace agreement.
The public has heard it all before from former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and former KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱). On Oct. 17, 2011, Ma told a news conference at the Presidential Office that his administration would decide in the next decade whether the nation should sign a peace agreement with China, telling reporters three days later that a referendum would first be held to gauge public opinion, and that an agreement would be dropped if the referendum failed.
In September 2016, Hung included “researching the possibility of obtaining a peace agreement to therefore end the hostile situation between the two sides of the Strait” in the party’s policy platform, although Wu, who took the party’s helm on May 20, 2017, later replaced “peace agreement” with “peaceful vision.” Two years later, Wu has changed his position, talking as if Taiwan’s future can be decided by the KMT alone, if it is in power, which exceeds similar statements from other leading party figures.
In October last year, KMT Legislator Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) sided with Ma, suggesting that a cross-strait peace agreement be signed, but only with strong domestic support — a public consensus on the issue — and an adequate supplementary plan in place.
The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties defines a treaty as “an international agreement concluded between states in written form and governed by international law.”
However, a precondition of a peace accord is to conclude a war or stop hostilities between warring parties.
As critics, including National Taiwan University College of Law professor Chiang Huang-chih (姜皇池), have pointed out, a peace agreement signed between Taiwan and China would be an acknowledgement to the international community that future cross-strait conflicts would be a continuation of the Chinese Civil War between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party, turning cross-strait relations into “China’s internal affairs and increasing the difficulty of international intervention.”
History clearly shows China’s lack of credentials when it comes to honoring peace agreements. For example, the 17-Point Agreement of 1951 turned into a bloody crackdown and continuous interference in Tibet instead of lasting peace with Beijing.
Peace is a shared global value, and no one is against having peaceful cross-strait relations. However, in what roles would Taipei and Beijing be sitting at the negotiating table, and what would happen to the existence and sovereign standing of Taiwan?
These are serious questions. The fate of the nation, its people and its dignity as a sovereign state are at stake. The presidential hopefuls should not casually pin Taiwan’s fate and dignity on Beijing, an authoritarian regime with notoriously poor credibility.
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