Share this

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? 

Jun 17, 2011

I think this is a tell

The People's Daily reports:
人民网北京6月15日电(记者刘洁妍 李叶) 蔡英文日前表示,民进党将会以更加积极的态度与大陆对话,但是不会接受“一个中国”原则。对此,在今天上午举行的国台办新闻发布会上,发言人杨毅表示,两岸关系和平发展迄今的进展和成果都是在认同体现一中原则的“九二共识”的基础上实现的。没有了这一基础,否认“一中框架”,继续顽固坚持“一边一国”的分裂主张、分裂立场,很难想象两岸关系如何维持与发展。 
Tsai Ing-wen yesterday said that the DPP would engage in dialogue with China with a more energetic attitude, but would not accept the One China principle. In response, at the press conference today held by the Taiwan Affairs Office, Spokesperson Yang Yi expressed that cross straight relations and peaceful development, to date, had  advanced and produced results because they were being realized on the foundation of the common recognition of the One China principle of the '92 consensus.  Without this foundation, and by denying the One China framework & continuing to stubbornly uphold the One Side, One Country 
splittist position, it is difficult to imagine how cross strait relations could maintain or develop.  [emphasis mine]

I think Tsai was clever here, setting herself in opposition not to the ever-undefined and undefinable '92 consensus, but instead to China's "One China" interpretation of it. That means the ball is in China's court to respond, not the KMT's court; and because the KMT wishes to downplay the Chinese interpretation anyway, you won't hear them talking about it. Certainly, a Chinese official could easily create backlash in Taiwan should they repeatedly remind everyone that all agreements signed since 2008 are signed on their understanding that the Taiwan government now recognizes Taiwan and China are part of the same country.

And even worse for pro-"reconciliation" propaganda is the place where Yang Yi explicitly refutes the average Taiwanese's understanding that the "status quo" means One Side, One Country.

And yet I'm struck by the way the statement closes: it's merely difficult to imagine, not impossible, for relations to remain intact with a DPP that denies "One China." That seems to hint to me that the Chinese leadership is at least still debating this question, though unlikely already resolved to maintain current agreements like the ECFA (however, uncertainty on this question would surely assist the KMT come  2012); and the Chinese leadership is doubtlessly eager to see just how "energetic" of an attitude the DPP will display during this time where the Chinese government need concede nothing.

Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but I think this article suggests that all bodes well for the Greens. First, Tsai picking her fight with the CCP position instead of the KMT's version of '92 could and should be the start of a brilliant campaign strategy. Second, repeated and explicit Chinese rejection of the One Side, One Country formula is exactly the sort of thing that would help bolster explicit support in Taiwan for that same formula (so don't expect to see much about it in the blue press).  And finally, maybe there's already hope that a Tsai win and rejection of One China wouldn't mean the end of finding a way to conduct dialogue.