Nearly one year ago, on April 30th, 2008, I analyzed two different 16 character formulas that were seemingly guidelines for how the KMT and CCP wanted to approach cross-strait relations:
When VP-elect Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) met with Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) met a few weeks ago at the economic conference, he raised a sixteen character phrase that he hoped would be the guiding principles of cross-strait relations:Today I bring you a third set of 16 characters that spoken by Premier of the People's Republic of China "Grandpa" Wen Jiabao (温家宝) on the 18th of this month at the 2009 Boao Forum for Asia. This third formula appears to be another direct response to the KMT's 16 character formula. Wen called on Taiwan and China to:「正視現實，開創未來，擱置爭議，共創雙贏」Well, today Hu Jintao responded in kind, using his own slightly modified formula:
"Face reality, start a new future, set aside disputes, and create a win-win situation."“建立互信、求同存异、搁置争议、共创双赢”
"Establish mutual trust, seek common ground while reserving differences, set aside disputes, and create a win-win situation."
“面向未来，捐弃前嫌，密切合作，携手并进”In the same speech, Wen Jiabao calls on Taiwan to be more open to Chinese imports and for more completely integrating the economic situation. He also called for "discussing and solving the political and economic problems" under the One China principle.
"Face the future, relinquish grudges, closely cooperate, and move forward hand-in-hand."
A China time article on the same subject notes a 16 character phrase of Ma's which is also very closely related to all of these discussions:
「同舟共濟，彼此扶持，深化合作，開創未來」So you can see where all of this is going.
Cross the stream on the same boat, give support to one another, deepen cooperation, and start a new future.
I'm not sure how I feel about it all.
Obviously I have no trust whatsoever in China's willingness to accept anything but full annexation of Taiwan, but I have no doubt they would be willing to form an intermediate agreement which will (a) buy time to make coercion unnecessary (sway Taiwanese public opinion) to achieve a "one country, two systems" unification, or failing that, (b) reduce all other foreign interest in the Taiwan question, thereby making economic or military coercion a piece of cake that the rest of the world will ignore.
On the other hand, part of me wonders what sort of possibility there may be for truly creative solutions. Many US professors I had talked to before were convinced China wanted nothing more than to "save face" on the Taiwan question. I wonder how true this is. I think you could talk people on Taiwan into a federalist "union," but China will have none of that; and likewise, the Chinese "one country, two systems" package won't fly here.
I've previously (and repeatedly) speculated on what an intermediate peace agreement would look like, but basically came up blank. I still believe it's unthinkable that the core issue (sovereignty) could be compromised by either side, so have a lot of trouble figuring out how the the intermediate agreement could be significant.
I think we are going to learn a lot more in the next year or two about the real plans of both the KMT and CCP. I think these are exciting times and that Taiwan will continue to maintain both its de facto independence & grow increasingly close to China on the economic and cultural fronts. I think the KMT will continue to be a bunch of dastardly authoritarian crooks while the DPP continues to be a bunch of whiners who can't even run candidates at the lowest levels or put together a compelling and comprehensive platform.
Time will tell.