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Lin Chuo-shui on the Ma-Xi Meeting

‘One China Principle’ a Roadblock, Not a Bridge


‘One China Principle’ a Roadblock, Not a Bridge


Former DPP Legislator Lin Chuo-shui feels that President Ma Ying-jeou made things even more difficult for Taiwan during his meeting with PRC President Xi Jinping.



‘One China Principle’ a Roadblock, Not a Bridge

By Kuo-chen Lu
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 585 )

Lin Chuo-shui, a former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator, is known as the leading Taiwanese independence theorist. Actively involved in the dangwai movement as a youth, he was a charter member of the DPP. Today he concentrates his efforts on researching cross-strait relations and Taiwan’s international strategy. What are his views on the recent meeting between Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou and the People’s Republic of China’s Xi Jinping? Following are excerpts from our interview:

Ma Ying-jeou went into the meeting with Xi Jinping looking to build a bridge for cross-strait relations, but when he blurted out talk of the “one-China principle,” that bridge became a roadblock.

Xi Needs Taiwan

The Ma-Xi meeting transpired because Xi Jinping needs Taiwan. When you look back at how long Ma Ying-jeou has made overtures to China, Xi Jinping was never willing to meet face-to-face. But this time, Xi went ahead and gave Ma a platform in Singapore, arranging for a closed-door meeting of equal status. This was no small feat, and it was a boon for Taiwan internationally.

The U.S. recently sailed a guided missile destroyer to within 12 nautical miles of an artificial Chinese island in the South China Sea, and the U.S. Minister of Defense, Ash Carter, stood on the deck of the USS Roosevelt in that body of water, intensifying the situation.

Strong tensions between China and Taiwan would raise anti-Chinese sentiment across Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and on to Vietnam, and that would not be good for Xi.

From Xi’s remarks, the message he wishes to send is clear. First, the people on both sides of the strait are Chinese, and secondly, Taiwan and China can resolve their own issues and work together for global and regional peaceful, stable development and prosperity. President Xi’s determination to bring Taiwan into the fold is clear.

Never did Xi mention the “one-China principle” in his remarks. If the PRC leader said nothing about it, then there was no reason for Ma to say anything about it when it was his turn to speak. Yet Ma unexpectedly spoke of the “one-China principle,” constricting him within the confines of that framework. To me, Ma ended up kowtowing to Xi.

Tsai Could Reject Framework

For the DPP, this is totally unacceptable, as Ma’s mention of the “one-China principle” only made things worse, creating roadblocks for Taiwan’s future leader.

I am not of the opinion that cross-strait relations will become unstable if Taiwan rejects the “1992 consensus” and “one-China principle,” meaning that there is absolutely no need for Tsai Ing-wen to accept this framework. Instead, she can create something new in its place, without fearing that not following the one-China principle will tear Taiwan apart. That Hung Hsiu-chu’s approval rating plummeted to 15 percent when she advocated that both China and Taiwan adopt a “one China, same interpretation” approach is all the proof necessary. The number of people in Taiwan who support the “one-China principle” continues to dwindle steadily, and a minority going against the majority would tear Taiwan apart from within.

Taiwan also need not fret about getting squeezed in the international arena, as the current situation is advantageous to Taiwan.

Looking at negotiations between Taiwan and Japan over the Diaoyutai (Senkaku) islets, after 17 years of frustrated talks over fishing rights, Japan finally gave ground in 2013 and signed a bilateral fisheries agreement with Taiwan. This shows that Taiwan is not more restricted internationally, but is actually increasingly free to maneuver, with considerable opportunities for further development.

Finally, as for whether Taiwan can join regional coalitions like the TPP and RCEP, this is not a question of international room, but in my view is about Taiwan’s internal affairs, as debate rages along incessantly within Taiwan about opening markets.

Translated from the Chinese by David Toman