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Sep 14, 2011

Tsai in Washington

Listening in live to Tsai's speech at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). As you would imagine, not a lot of surprises. Some notes I'm taking:

"The overarching goal with managing relations with China is to maintain a peaceful and stable environment so that the Taiwanese people can have the opportunity to develop a prosperous economy ... Ultimately, we want to ensure that the right to determine Taiwan's future rests in the hands of the people of Taiwan, and any change to the status quo must be approved by the people of Taiwan through democratic means. "

She defines the status quo as basically meaning independence, and argues that dogmatic positions are "insufficient" for dealing with China, justifying the DPP being vague on exactly how dialogue with China will continue.

"We will refrain from extreme or radical approaches," she says. We acknowledge that Beijing insists on the One China principle, "But Beijing must understand the reality that the Taiwanese people ... are opposed to a one party system and committed to upholding the independence of their sovereignty. "

"The intensity of economic ties is a reality, and China has already become Taiwan's largest investment destination and trading partner. Economic relations have evolved to an extent that interaction cannot be stopped by either side... "

"The DPP's return to government is inevitable, and hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later."

Question: When you meet with US officials how are you going to assure them that you will continue to promote peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait in the absence of the '92 consensus?

"I essentially told you them what I said today to you in this speech. There are some political preconditions that might be too fragile for the future relationship. By now people generally agree that this ['92 consensus] is a fiction... and it's not going to be a solid foundation for both parties to build a long term and broad coverage relationship. So that is why we propose the Taiwanese people need to get together and get a Taiwan consensus before we go to China and negotiate.... the best way to give a consensus a political life without being disruptive by change of government in Taiwan is through legislation. So if we have a Taiwan consensus of some sort, then we would make that a piece of legislation of Taiwan so that it will govern future governments and administrations. And then, externally, we're talking about a legal basis now, we're talking about agreements of some sort with China... this is not something unusual when you are handling an external relationship."

Re: Mutual non-denial?

"It has a risk element in it, when you're not particularly emphasizing or insisting on your sovereignty,then the international community will think that you're legally non-existent, which is a situation becoming worse and worse now with the Ma administration taking that position, Taiwan's international position is weakening. So while of course people want to have a peaceful and stable relationship across the Taiwan Strait, I want to say that we should at the same time be careful about our position international, especially our legal position since you're a lawyer."


skiingkow said...

On the so-called '92 "Consensus".

"...and it's not going to be a solid foundation for both parties to build a long term and broad coverage relationship..."

Man! She got so close, but didn't drive it home!

Repeat after me...


Guy said...

Nice report. Many thanks!


Gilman Grundy said...

Err . . . yeah, she could have said that if her goal was simply providing wish fulfillment for people obsessed with the issue. Instead, Tsai is a politician and need only commit herself as far as is reasonable.

In the UK we talk about the "Love, Actually . . syndrome" - that is, the wish for a British leader who will tell the US president where to get off in the same way that Hugh Grant's character in the film did. It seems that some people long for Taiwanese leaders who will unleash tirades against the Mainland, and to hell with the consequences - but Tsai is not and never will be a "Love, Actually" candidate. She's actually a lot better than that and I hope she wins.

justrecently said...

Tsai is speaking to a public whose support for Taiwan is critical. To understand that the American public isn't Father Christmas is essential, and I agree with Foarp - Tsai, fortunately, is no Love, Actually candidate.

skiingkow said...

(if some of the comments were directed at me -- not sure)

Explaining a huge contradiction in a phrase that applies to an event is hardly a "to hell with the consequences" approach.

It is actually more of a "friendly" approach than saying that it "did not exist".

The latter will inevitably lead to a "he-said / she-said" dialogue -- which will lead to heightened tensions.

Attacking the lack of logic in the whole thing is the least "emotional" thing she could do. It would also get more people on her side.

But alas, she did not do it.

justrecently said...

Tsai's speech at the AEI, apparently in full, can be found on the DPP blog. Several other of her speeches during her U.S. visit, too.