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Jun 24, 2011

One country, two governments

You'll remember that Chinese scholar Chu Shulong just floated the concept of "one country, two governments."  This is not a new idea and has been floated ever since the Shanghai Communique. But scholarly channels are commonly used by the Chinese government to float trial balloons, and governments in both Taiwan and China frequently pass questions through scholars. So this proposal should be considered significant in the sense that China might be feeling out Taiwan anew on a policy the CCP once roundly rejected.

And President Ma has made a surprisingly fast and vocal response: "We can discuss 'one country, two governments.'"  I'm surprised at the speed of his response in part because KMT legislators were downplaying the significance or usefulness of Chu's proposal just yesterday. Now they're defending discussion over the idea.

It seems to me that the KMT is ideologically constrained to one of two positions in negotiations with China: either a position very much like 'one country, two governments' or a demand that China fully democratize before unification can be realized. That second position is probably a little worn out within the party and would not get any favors from Beijing.

The 'one country, two governments' model is what "greater China" advocates in Taiwan have dreamed of for years -- they envision a world where the ROC government survives intact and gains recognition from China and the world. Basically, pro-unification advocates in Taiwan envision this as a symbolic unification with practical independence maintained.

I think if there were any formulation for "unification" that will not send the Taiwanese people running to the DPP, it's this one. Truth be told, even I would be interested in hearing more about the idea, and would not reject it out of hand. The major concern, of course, is that the CCP uses this model as a lure to 'solve' the unification problem, then puts increasing pressure on Taiwan to gradually gain control over the island.

I believe Ma's response carries high political risk in Taiwan and makes him an easy target for DPP criticism ("which article of the constitution," the Greens are saying, "allows recognition of two governments?").  Ma's comment is directed at Beijing, and I imagine he hopes to signal to the CCP that only this kind of framework can win support at home.  When else has the KMT has so boldly stated support for a particular formula? 


Anonymous said...

I think I wrote this some time ago. The PRC and ROC might be able to use a fully democratic HK as a test-balloon/confidence building measure. One Country, two governments, practiced in honesty would be the best-case scenario for the ROC, no wonder the KMT is jumping on it.

Tim Maddog said...

A-gu, you wrote:
- - -
Truth be told, even I would be interested in hearing more about the idea, and would not reject it out of hand.
- - -

I think that's incredibly naive. Remember who we're dealing with and what the stakes are.

Until there's a huge change in China, any such ideas should be rejected immediately.

Tim Maddog

Gilman Grundy said...

To be frank, whilst the idea certainly sounds like it could be worth looking into, I do not think the CCP would ever actually relinquish any of the powers they reserve to themselves in this fashion. The "no unification without democratisation" stance is a lot more consistent, reasonable, and a lot less likely to allow a back-door CCP takeover.

skiingkow said...

This is not Canada / Quebec, A-gu.

Reality: One is an authoritarian state. One is a democracy.

One system will have to be compromised to fit within the other. And methinks this will not be to Taiwan's benefit.

Maddog is quite correct.

Readin said...

The danger of one-country two-governments is it legitimizes China's nonsense about Taiwan being "an internal affair". Once that is done, an invasion of Taiwan is no longer a violation of international borders and conquest, it is a civil war. This would make it more difficult for other countries, particularly democratic countries, to intervene.

Carlos said...

I also see it leading to a repressive takeover, but A-Gu is right - it's a framework that should work with pan-blue theory and would get moderate levels of acceptance in Taiwan.

Surely it's one of the best realistic outcomes for any Taiwanese who believes in One China, isn't it?

Michael Le Houllier said...

After reading the paper by Dr. Chu, I made some comments on specific points made in my own just resurrected blog. Frankly, I think it is a non-starter. I don't see people outside of Taipei (or the offshore islands) actually taking it seriously or if it were to commence, to approve of it. But, that is one man's opinion.

Anonymous said...

The no unification without democratization slogan is good, but won't placate the PRC. I think we all know that the PRC isn't willing to play cat and mouse for another 2 decades.