Tsai must drop the fan­tasy of mud­dling through

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

As Tsai Ing-wen, chair­woman of the pro-in­de­pen­dence Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party in Tai­wan, pre­pares for her in­au­gu­ra­tion on Fri­day, many are keep­ing a close eye on whether or not she will face up to the 1992 Con­sen­sus in her speech. Her choice, be it ad­vo­cat­ing the one-China prin­ci­ple or equiv­o­cat­ing about the con­sen­sus in fresh pur­suit of the is­land’s “for­mal in­de­pen­dence”, will mark a turn­ing point in cross-Straits re­la­tions. The for­mer will ce­ment the peace­ful de­vel­op­ment shared by both sides of the Tai­wan Straits over the past eight years, while the lat­ter will un­der­mine that good mo­men­tum.

That Tsai has stressed the need to “pre­serve the sta­tus quo” in cross-Straits ties while avoid­ing ques­tions about her stance on the 1992 Con­sen­sus (un­der the name of re­spect­ing Tai­wan peo­ple’s de­ci­sion), in­di­cates that she is in­clined to take the sec­ond path, as much as she craves and needs the div­i­dends of the eight-year-long peace­ful ex­changes.

On its part, the main­land will not give up per­suad­ing the DPP to ad­here to the 1992 Con­sen­sus, but it has also pre­pared for the worst-case sce­nar­ios, which are very likely to hap­pen given Tsai’s long-time ad­vo­cacy of “in­de­pen­dence” as well as her lat­est equiv­o­cal re­marks.

Tai­wan’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the up­com­ingWorldHealth As­sem­bly fromMay 23 to 28 in Geneva as an observer, to a point, will of­fer an in­di­ca­tion of whether the is­land’s new lead­er­ship takes the 1992 Con­sen­sus se­ri­ously.

The one-China prin­ci­ple, that both the main­land and Tai­wan are parts of one China, has been widely rec­og­nized among the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and is also re­flected in theUNGen­eral As­sem­bly Res­o­lu­tion 2758. Tai­wan’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in theWHAs­ince 2009 has been a spe­cial ar­range­ment based on the one-China prin­ci­ple and rel­e­van­tWHAres­o­lu­tions.

The prin­ci­ple stands on firm le­gal ground at home and abroad and has been made clear even in Tai­wan’s “con­sti­tu­tion”. It is nei­ther part of the “po­lit­i­cal re­stric­tions” nor an “in­ter­fer­ence” from the main­land as the DPP re­cently ex­torted.

Claim­ing that Tai­wan’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in theWHAhas noth­ing to do with the one-China prin­ci­ple, the DPP has at­tempted to make a moun­tain out of a mole­hill.

True, the tim­ing is a bit del­i­cate be­cause the is­land was in­vited to the meet­ing un­der the Kuom­intang’s eight-year rule, and will be rep­re­sented by the pro-in­de­pen­dence DPP in Geneva a week later. But that does not change the fact that both the main­land and Tai­wan be­long to one China.

Such be­ing said, should the DPP rep­re­sen­ta­tives seek to chal­lenge or protest against the prin­ci­ple in Geneva, the party’s prom­ise to main­tain the sta­tus quo will be seen as be­ing no more than lip ser­vice to the vot­ers that fa­vor it. Tsai and her party should drop the fan­tasy of mud­dling through and prop­erly en­dorse the one-China prin­ci­ple for the bet­ter­ment of Tai­wan peo­ple’s liveli­hoods.

The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor at the In­sti­tute of Tai­wan Stud­ies, Bei­jing Union Univer­sity.

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