Share this

Jan 15, 2009

More on the non-starter peace accord

In my own coverage of the peace agreement, I started out with surprise and concern at the speed of both Ma's peace plans and China's quick response. I then began carefully logging comments from both KMT and CCP officials/scholars that may give some hints about the content of such an agreement. I engaged in some idle speculation of what a peace agreement might look like.

And finally, while writing my last post on the topic, it dawned on me that a peace agreement will not happen because the gap between Taiwan and China on the only significant political topic it could address -- sovereignty-related issues -- is simply too gigantic. Leaving sovereignty out means the most a peace treaty can say is that China will withdrawal missiles to some other province and Taiwan will maintain defensive forces only, or something to that effect. In other words, nothing would really change at all.

That hasn't stopped Chinese and Taiwanese press from writing on the topic, with some already recommending a Nobel for Hu and Ma if they can sign an agreement. The KMT's own paper and think tanks are very hopeful of intermediate breakthroughs. China-friendly Hong Kong media trumpets a CDN piece that points out Hu's consistency with past Chinese policy and his willingness to go down the track of full economic integration before pushing political issues. Old KMT politicians are saying Taiwan must accept "One China" (probably sans two interpretations) to get a peace accord, but thankfully there aren't many of them around anymore.

Green media is completely flipping out for fear that Ma is handing Taiwan to China in a gift basket, and while I've said before that Ma is likely to compromise Taiwan with his policy direction, I don't believe he's intentionally selling out Taiwan or wants unification in his life time.

So I've stopped worrying about what may happen in the short term. The core issue (sovereignty) cannot be compromised by either side, and China is not eager for confrontation if they can get closer to Taiwan peacefully. Sure, if Ma brings Taiwan so tightly into China's orbit that we eventually lose all negotiating leverage and crash into them like a replay of the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction event, that would be a disaster.

But we still have time. And at least as importantly, Ma's policy (and the global economic crisis) has done so little to improve the local economy, there could be significant backlash against him that helps boost the DPP next time.

But to capitalize on this situation, the DPP must create a comprehensive, reform-oriented and well-targeted platform and push for popular, concrete goals over the next few election cycles. At least this is possible, if not yet likely (the DPP is still flailing around like a fish out of water). I also think it's vital (though highly improbable) that the DPP start competing at the lowest election levels.

No comments: