The KMT needs to embark on more journeys of peace
Ten years ago this month, Lien Chan, chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT), who was defeated in the presidential election the year before, made a journey of peace to China to ease the tensions across the Taiwan Strait and pave the way for an eventual rapprochement between Taipei and Beijing. Lien arrived in Beijing on April 26, one and a half months after China had adopted the Anti-Secession Law against independence for Taiwan. Then-President Chen Shui-bian tried to accentuate by going back on his inaugural promise of no abolition of the National Unification Council and no repeal of the Guidelines for National Unification. He had the former cease functioning and the latter cease applying its claim; He didn’t literally break his promise, though.
While in Beijing, Lien, who would retire as chairman of the KMT shortly thereafter, met Hu Jintao, China’s president, and they reached an agreement on cooperation across the strait to bring peace and prosperity to the entire “one China” nation. Their meeting formally ended the long feud between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Chinese Civil War, which began with Chiang Kai-shek’s Red Purge in the late 1920s, was a struggle for power between the two parties. Mao Zedong won the civil war to found the People’s Republic of China and Chiang moved his government of the Republic of China to Taipei from Nanjing at the end of 1949.
Lien and Hu ended the war between the two parties, and expressed the desire to sign a peace agreement to end the perpetual enmity between Taiwan and China that had lasted from 1950. Moreover, they pledged their honor to forge forward toward their common goal. As a starter, they formed the KMT-CCP Forum, which has since been held every year. Three months after his return from China, Lien retired and Ma Ying-jeou, then the mayor of Taipei, took over.
Now, the 10th round of the KMT-CCP Forum, originally scheduled for last Dec. 20-21 in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, will take place in Shanghai on May 3. The postponement was necessitated by the KMT’s terrible performance in last year’s nationwide combined local elections, commonly referred to as the 9-in-1 Elections of Nov. 29.
In all but one of the nine previous KMT-CCP Forum meetings, the KMT chairmen and CCP general secretaries led their respective delegations to participate. The one round of the talks where the KMT chairman was absent took place in 2010, after Ma doubled as KMT chairman for the second time at the end of the previous year. Wu Po-hsiung, honorary chairman, had to lead the KMT delegation. In the meantime, Ma has failed to keep his 2008 campaign promise to sign a cross-strait peace accord, and adopted instead a “no independence, no unification, and no war” policy to decelerate the rapprochement between Taiwan and the mainland.
Ma quit his concurrent job of KMT chairman to take responsibility for the election debacle, and Eric Chu, mayor of New Taipei City, is currently chairman of the ruling party. Chu first expressed his desire to visit China, subtly suggesting that he hopes to lead a KMT delegation to the postponed KMT-CCP Forum session now rescheduled for next month in Shanghai, while he was in Hong Kong early last month to attend a Hong Kong-Taiwan Forum.
Beijing welcomed Chu’s visit to Shanghai, but scaled down the KMT-CCP Forum to just one day for lack of such an important agenda as the conclusion of the cross-strait peace accord Ma has purposely left out. That’s why there was no mention of Chu and CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping heading their respective delegations in the announcements on the forthcoming round of the KMT-CCP Forum both parties made at the same time last Friday. The chances are that Xi won’t meet Chu at all next month.
But a Chu-Xi meeting would take place if Chu were to promise to continue to work with Xi to pick up where Lien and Hu had left off. Ma, who reneged on the peace accord, urged Chu to attend the Shanghai round, where the KMT has to secure the CCP’s trust in their working together for an eventual unification of the Chinese nation. Beijing needs the KMT assurance, now that the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party appears to be on the verge of coming back to power by winning next year’s presidential election.
Chu should go to Shanghai to recommit the KMT to work for the conclusion of the peace accord for the good of Taiwan.