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Apr 1, 2011

Tsai, Su discuss cross-strait policy

Tsai Ying-wen and Su Chen-chang are in campaign mode, in preparation for the DPP "primary by opinion poll." I've seen Su's commercials on TV lately and obviously both are trying to outline their positions on the issues.

I found this article about DPP Chair Tsai Ying-wen and from the pro-blue China Times to be most interesting for it's relative lack of content.  The CNA articles about Su Chen-chang and Tsai Ying-wen's interviews are a little more comprehensive.

We'll start with Su, who's position (in this interview) we can outline as below: Taiwan is a sovereign independent country called the ROC according to the constitution; the Ma government's "One China, Two Interpretations" is hollow rhetoric, as evidenced by the fact that no high ranking KMT official can manage to say "Republic of China" while visiting the mainland.

He notes Taiwan struggled for the democracy it enjoys today, and China is still stuck in an authoritarian situation, which rules out discussions of "unification" for now, but Su adds China is a dynamic and changing society, and he expressed confidence China will continue to change [politically, seems to be the hint]. He said he would continue to uphold the ECFA and other such agreements with China if elected.

For her part, Tsai Ying-wen expressed her hope that the question of Taiwan's future can be left to the next generation; that the Ma administration is bringing Taiwan too close to China and that the "point of no return" could soon be reached [a topic I have blogged on]. She said she wants to maintain stable development of economic relations with China, but that a "completely new viewpoint" was needed in approaching these relations.

I note several things about both of these interviews. First is the common thread of hoping to maintain the current economic arrangements and "stable relations" with China, which obviously both Tsai and Su feel will be critical to winning a majority of the vote.

Everyone knows, though, that the so-called "'92 consensus," while endorsed by neither Su nor Tsai, is indeed the foundation for political dialogue with China as we know it, and it's not at all clear how the DPP hopes to reconcile their proposed policy direction with that fact. But it's noteworthy that neither Tsai nor Su is outright ruling out that framework, now that the campaign has started.

We know that China responded to Tsai's slightly less speech on cross-strait relations by telling the DPP to renounce Taiwanese Independence and give up the idea that Taiwan and China aren't the same country. Now certainly, the DPP as an organization is nowhere near ready to move in that direction, and any attempt by either Su or Tsai to break with the party line on "One side, one country" would split the opposition terribly.

So, in summary, the DPP is in a bit of a mess on this. The two leading candidates are trying to keep doors open for dialogue, which means talking about "new perspectives" while not explicitly insisting on a "one side, one country" starting point.  But that position leaves them far from the party faithful.

Can they pull off such a highly nuanced position as the election approaches? I doubt it. The DPP candidate will be forced to explicitly endorse or reject "one China, two interpretations" or the "'92 consensus," and likewise will be endorsing or rejecting the "one side, one country" position which is core to the DPP mission.

Rejecting "one China, two interpretations" will surely, immediately result in tons of cold water being poured on the DPP by the CCP & KMT, who will say how irresponsible the party is to adopt such a position; but the potential upshot to this is that if the DPP remains strong in the pre-election polling, China will have to engage in an internal debate on (1) whether or not to grant more 'favors' to the KMT government  in the area of international space to prop up voter confidence and (2) whether they really want to rule out talking to the DPP administration in the case of a DPP victory.

Rejecting "one side, one country," on the other hand, is going to alienate the core constituency of the DPP who may either stay at home or vote for a splinter candidate, possibly Annette Lu or a TSU candidate.

I'll throw in there that the CCP has had a long term dream of marginalizing the DPP's independence platform, if not the party itself, by trying to make it political suicide to endorse a "one side, one country" position. They have thus far failed, but perhaps the winds are shifting.


Taiwan Echo said...

Tsai's position on the fabricated "1992 consensus" has always been clear: it is fabricated. She has been maintaining that view ever since, well, it was fabricated back in 2000 by Su Chi.

So if she changes position on that, she will lose support from both those supported her and against her.

Su? I don't knows. It seems that he has been keeping it vague on this. We really don't know how he will handle it. In fact I suspect if he is even capable of handling that. Remember, he is good at domestical administration. When he was the premier, he had to rely on Tsai's experiences to deal with many national-level issues because of his "lack of experiences." (see the quote I cited in 兩國論與蔡英文).

If Tsai is the DPP candidate and eventually win, the CCP will face serious reality, like you mentioned, whether they need to negotiate with Tsai.

Some factors will make them think hard:

1) While Ma's goal is to annex Taiwan for the goal of one China, Ma's administration in the past 3 years had in fact pushed more Taiwanese away from China. So, what's the point of keeping supporting Ma ?

2) Tsai is commonly seen as reasonable and soft temper person. She's not like CSB to whom the CCP can easily pin the blame of "not negotiating" on. So if the CCP maintains the same attitude like they did against CSB, they will have to risk of being on the guilty side.

And if the CCP decides to engage a negotiation with Tsai, they will face another hardship: Tsai is probably the most experienced negotiator in the DPP+KMT combined. Her past performances on international negotiations had impressed opponents -- including some from China. So China knows she is not a soft sheep, and it's almost impossible to push her back down on the negotiation table. It will be a real headache for the CCP.

On the other hand, if Tsai is the president, then, she will not be on the negotiation table. That might give the CCP some hope.

Anonymous said...

actually, the DPP might be able to use reunification under pre-conditions for its advantage, it would basically amount to reviving Lee Teng-hui's KMT platform: don't rule unification out, but only under Taiwans conditions, not before Taiwan has entered the UN and is acknowledged as a separate political entity, maybe make the precondition that there are free and fair full elections in HK for at least 10 years, there are lots of ways to take the initiative and set the PRC under pressure. Good old DPP rhetoric won't cut it.

justrecently said...

This is a short and curt comment, Anonymous - and somehow, I feel it's the smartest bit I've yet read about the 2012 elections - especially the UN membership prerequisite.