Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tsai seeks talks, but does Beijing?

Only the insane repeat failed behavior with the expectation that the outcome will be different

Ever since it became clear that Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would lead the pan-green camp in next year’s presidential election, she has made much of the fact that her party is willing to enter into dialogue with Beijing and had set up a think tank specifically to meet that need.

Tsai’s affirmation that the DPP would adopt a “pragmatic” approach to cross-strait relations and seek dialogue with various segments of Chinese society is not only a welcome development, but also a necessary one. Given China’s clout in practically all matters nowadays, from the environment to the economy, a small nation like Taiwan cannot afford to pretend that the giant next door doesn’t exist.

Although Tsai’s strategy for such dialogue remains somewhat vague, from what we have been able to glean so far, it represents a continuation of the opening orchestrated by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) over the past three years, with a few more red lines and a stricter adherence to the principle of Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Welcome though Tsai’s remarks may be, we should remember that the DPP has already gone down that road.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.


David on Formosa said...

A good editorial and I think you have identified the major problem should Tsai become president next year. One small point of clarification on the independence issue. You wrote, "The main sticking point then, and what will likely re-emerge should Tsai’s DPP prevail in next January’s elections, is the clause at the core of the DPP charter: Taiwanese independence." The DPP's 1999 Resolution on Taiwan's Future states that Taiwan *is* an independent country and any changes in the status quo should be decided by a plebiscite. This replaced the earlier Taiwanese independence clause in the DPP's charter.

Perhaps the term "Taiwanese independence" includes the stance of the 1999 resolution, but many people read it as meaning a unilateral declaration of independence, adopting a new constitution or Taiwan obtaining de jure independence by some means. I think it is important to make the distinction when discussing this issue.

FOARP said...

I'm with you that a new strategy should be used, and that international leverage is a legitimate tool in building a working relationship with the mainland.

The important "red line" is that the sovereignty of Taiwan is not abandoned. Given the freedom that Taiwanese people already enjoy without independence, independence need only be an issue once it is actually possible to seek it without war resulting. Taiwan need only keep open the door to seek independence by avoiding the imposition of permanent restrictions that would prevent a future referendum.

On a different note, I often disagree with the things I read on these pages, and in editorials in TT, but I particularly take issue with the China Post's ridiculous personal attack on you.