James Soong on the Ma-Xi Meeting
We need Institutionalized, Supra-Partisan Exchanges with China
People First Party (PFP) Chairman and presidential candidate James Soong has met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Chinese President Xi Jinping on separate occasions. How does Soong assess the meeting in Singapore between Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou and Xi?
We need Institutionalized, Supra-Partisan Exchanges with ChinaBy Ming-hsien Lee
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 585 )
From the perspective of the cross-strait leaders maintaining peaceful development across the Taiwan Strait, the Ma-Xi Meeting is a very important breakthrough. Cross-strait relations are not an extension of KMT-CPC relations but a struggle between two jurisdictions, the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China, which has evolved from an armed conflict into a competition between different systems and lifestyles.
Since opinions differ domestically, the ruling KMT faces great challenges when it comes to developing cross-strait relations. This time President Ma did not visit as a KMT representative but as the representative of the Republic of China.
Generally, negotiations emphasize equality and respect, but the process itself must be transparent. Bargaining, dialogue and negotiations should be carried out with participation across party lines. Moreover, the negotiation outcome must be overseen by the Legislature; it must be democratically monitored to highlight the will of the people in Taiwan. We have a democratic system.
It is very regrettable that the lineup [for Ma’s entourage] this time failed to provide an opportunity for the top echelons of the other political parties to participate. The process that the Ma government used to handle this event was not transparent enough, and participation was too narrow.
If the KMT is not able to deliver on these three points, the people will, of course, harbor very strong suspicions. If public uproar is triggered at home because this whole affair was not handled properly, then the losses outweigh the gains. Future negotiations with the other side must be above political parties and groups; they must be supra-partisan.
Leveraging Taiwan’s Strengths
In fact, we increasingly need to institutionalize how we deal with problems that crop up due to the frequency of cross-strait exchanges. We need to completely reexamine issues that pertain to the state exercising its ultimate authority, such as the inflow and outflow of mainland capital, documents from both sides, as well as policies and interaction between the two governments.
Taiwan must leverage its advantages, one of which is its multi-party system and pluralist decision-making process. Taiwan must let the mainland know that they will not be able to get many things done if they only contact a single political party. The mainland must take into account the development of the people’s diverse opinions in Taiwan.
If Taiwan were able to utilize this advantage to make the mainland consider [cross-strait ties] from a larger, higher plane, it would be the “meeting of the minds” that Xi has discussed. What I mean to say is that it is necessary to win the hearts of the Taiwanese people instead of pursuing narrow-minded short-term gains. Mr. Xi has such stature.
Taiwan has still another lever for cross-strait interaction – our longstanding close relationship with the United States. The mainland is also well aware of this situation.
I once asked Mr. Xi to show consideration for Taiwan’s stance in four areas [Note: 1. Taiwanese consciousness, 2. The difference of Taiwan’s political and social system, 3. Taiwan’s aspiration for economic autonomy, 4. The nature of Taiwan’s pluralist society], and he responded by saying he has four policies regarding Taiwan that will not change [Note: 1. promote peaceful cross-strait development, 2. foster win-win measures for cross-strait cooperation and exchange, 3. relentless enthusiasm for uniting the Taiwanese compatriots behind a joint agenda 4. determination to curtail moves toward Taiwan independence]. If we were able to understand each other’s bottom lines and look for common ground between them, this would make a good starting point for the future. We must also do a good job staying on top of this situation.
Translated from the Chinese by Susanne Ganz
About the “1992 Consensus”
In the early 1990s, Taiwan and China began having contact, but the two sides had to resolve how to define their respective status before engaging in pragmatic negotiations. After several meetings, it was decided in 1992 that “each side use its own oral statements to describe the ‘one-China principle.’” It was the first time common ground had been reached in more than 40 years in facing the core problem of how to define “one China.” After this consensus was reached, talks were held between Koo Chen-fu and Wang Daohan, the heads of quasi-official organizations representing Taiwan and the PRC in bilateral contacts, respectively, in Singapore in 1993. In 2000, then Secretary-General of National Security Council Su Chi described this as the “1992 consensus.” The consensus has never been recognized by the Democratic Progressive Party.
Sources: Mainland Affairs Council press releases, “20 Years of Vacillations in Cross-Strait Relations”