Former vice president Wu Den-yih’s (吳敦義) win of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairperson election on Saturday shows that party factionalism centered around cross-strait policies remains unchanged.
Over the next four years, Wu is likely to push the KMT’s so-called “1992 consensus,” or “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” that he and former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) fought to uphold.
The “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted that he made up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government that both sides acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
Meanwhile, outgoing Chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu’s (洪秀柱) “furthering the ‘1992 consensus’ and exploring the possibility of ending cross-strait antagonism with a peace agreement” is to be shelved as she lost her re-election bid.
Although Hung has not backtracked in her policies, the result of the chairperson election and Wu’s popularity among different local factions show that he has satisfied the party’s grassroots who are eager for a KMT win in the next presidential elections in 2020.
Wu seems to have won over supporters with slogans such as: “There is no stream that can block my advance” — a reference to the perception that the cities and counties south of the Jhuoshuei River (濁水溪) are considered a pan-green stronghold — and his promise to weave the so-called “2008 winning formula” into an ideal outcome in 2020.
Wu’s direct attacks on Hung and KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) with comments such as “for one who has never worked in the central or south of the nation before, it would be difficult to cross the Tamsui River (淡水河),” have apparently moved even the most apathetic party members.
Even some party members from Huang Fu-hsing (黃復興), a special branch of the KMT composed of military veterans or their family members, have turned to support Wu out of “greater consideration” for the party’s outlook in the 2020 presidential election.
Wu said in his victory speech on Saturday evening that the path forward is one that cannot seek either unification with China or independence, but should seek peaceful cross-strait relations — a position that puts him at odds with Hung and her faction.
Meanwhile, the “deep blue” faction and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will undoubtedly ask what a “1992 consensus” even means if the issue of unification cannot be discussed.
They would also likely ask: If the KMT will not discuss unification, what makes its position different from that of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that refuses to even say the words “1992 consensus?”
If Wu cannot turn Ma’s “1992 consensus of one China with different interpretations” into a more practical treatise, and if the DPP is able to formulate a new consensus with the CCP, then how much value can the KMT bring to the table in regard to cross-strait relations?
Although the party chairperson election is over, the fact remains that Hung and her supporters received 20 percent of the votes in the election; as such, lack of consensus within the party on its cross-strait platform is a challenge that Wu needs to face if he is to run for president in 2020.
Translated by William Hetherington
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