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Jan 7, 2008

Chinese reporting, "Constitutional one-China" and "one-China, two interpretations

After Michael Turton's latest post dissecting a Western media piece, I was compelled to show people the strange world of Chinese [PRC] reporting on Taiwan. Of course, this post is more of an aimless ramble.

Two interesting points; nearly all of the media pieces written in Taiwan you see on the People's Daily Taiwan sub-set website are actually direct copies from United Daily News or China Times with certain modifications (such as putting legislator in quotation marks to add a feeling of them being so-called legislators). These articles always slam the DPP and portray Ma in a positive light.

Second point: when China puts a piece up showing their own policy, we are reminded just how difficult it would be to reconcile the Chinese government's position with any self-respecting Taiwanese government.

Let's take some samples from a few articles. Article 1:


In regards to the Taiwan problem, Hu Jintao said that next year China wants to develop cross strait relations and promote steps aimed at reunifying the motherland under Jiang Zemin's eight-point proposal on the basis of "peaceful unification and one country, two systems." China will not cease its struggle for peaceful unification and its expectations for the Taiwanese people are unchanged. China will make no concessions on its opposition to the splittist activities of "Taiwanese independence" and will make peaceful cross-strait development its principle. China honestly cares about the welfare of those on both sides of the strait and will seek peace in the Taiwan region. China will continue to implement and expand its policies related to Taiwanese compatriots and will work hard for all of the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, including Taiwan compatriots. China will continue to push for the great task of unifying the motherland.

The real point to note is this: the frequent refrain of unification (not Ma's maintaining the status quo) and the insistence on the "one country, two systems" formula (China has not ever and will never accept "One China, two interpretations," which Ma Ying-jeou already knows but conveniently ignores -- and China won't derail his election hopes by shooting that idea down too publicly before the election! See for yourself -- a search of "one China, two interpretations" on the People's Daily websites shows hits only when they're quoting Ma in a UDN or China Times article. The PRC has never even used the phrase, but has only strongly denounced any "two China" formulas).

Article 2:   

[Scholar] Chen Kongli expressed that the popular opinion for cross strait policy is, "peace, reconciliation, cooperation, and a win-win scenario." Besides emphasising "curbing Taiwanese independence," the mainland also places importance on peaceful development, something which has won the support and recognition of the international community. Although there was no breakthrough in relations with Chen Shui-bian this year, it makes little difference if Ma or Hsieh is elected next year -- either win would create a situation better than what we have now.

So here again, as in the Western press, is this idea that Hsieh is a pragmatist, and that Chen is an ideologue who can't be talked to. This is based in part due on Hsieh's policy of the "One-China Constitution" which he spoke of even in the primaries, where it could have hurt him among the 1% of the Taiwanese population that constitutes the DPP party membership. Now, exactly what that position means practically has yet to be seen -- Hsieh also insists on Taiwan's sovereignty and independence from the People's Republic of China, and these two positions should give him some degree of wiggle room to cooperate with China and maintain Taiwanese sovereignty, should China be willing to consider the possibility. As then-Premier Hsieh said years ago when colorfully criticizing the "constitutional one-China" principle of James Soong:

Although the idea of a constitutional one-China is still controversial, at least it's a complete philosophy. As long as China can recognize the Republic of China constitution, and recognize the Republic of China, then the status quo can be maintained in the Taiwan strait; if the formula is contorted into a "one China on both sides of the strait," the Chinese would have no need to recognize the ROC constitution or the ROC itself. To merely switch a "constitutional one-China" for a "one China on both sides of the strait" formulation [without switching the substance] is wrong, the same as "switching underwear but wearing the same suit."

I am reminded in particular of an article published in the People's Daily in 2004 after Lien Chan said, "The Republic of China is not a part of the People's Republic of China." When asked if he would say there is one country on either side of the strait, he agreed, "You could say that."

The Chinese press quietly printed an article that said, more or less, "if this is political language designed just to win the election, then we can ignore it. If this represents a fundamental policy shift by the KMT, then there is no basis for further cooperation with them." As you could tell from the post-2004 situation, the KMT never brought it up again and neither did the Chinese side.

Sadly, although I saved that article to my laptop at that time, I have since lost it and have no way of recovering it. I also can't find it on the People's Daily website no matter how I search. I remember several key words, but it's not helping me much.


MJ Klein said...

very enlightening, thanks for taking the time to post translations of these articles. there can be no doubt that the Communists won't give up until we're dead or converted.

Luke said...

Very interesting observations. There's little doubt in my mind that "two systems" is nothing but lip service.