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Hung-Xi Summit Stays the Dawn of Cross-Strait Peace

icon2016/11/03
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Hung-Xi Summit Stays the Dawn of Cross-Strait Peace

 

China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)

A Translation

November 1, 2016

 

Executive Summary:

 

The Hung-Xi Summit offered little in the way of flash. But while the two sides are currently mired in cold confrontation, increased cross-Strait exchanges and communication are beneficial for people on both sides of the Strait. Hung Hsiu-chu proposed a path that would advance cross-Strait peace. Xi Jinping expressed the desire and bottom-line for peace. This made Mainland strategy for Taiwan clearer, and was the greatest achievement of the Hung-Xi Summit.

 

Full Text Below:

 

The Hung-Xi Summit will affect trilateral relations among the Blue, Green, and Red camps. Dissent has emerged from the Blue camp, and ridicule from the Green camp. Public statements issued by Hung Hsiu-chu and Xi Jinping suggest that the two sides followed the anticipated script, thereby completing a routine talk between the KMT and the CCP leaders. But the Kuomintang has lost the executive and legislative powers for the first time. Cross-Strait relations remain uncertain. As a result, the very first exchange between Hung and Xi carries with it unusual significance.

 

The two sides are seeking stability. The Hung-Xi Summit was indeed short of flash. That was no surprise. But that does not mean its impact on cross-Strait relations and Taiwan's political evolution was insignificant. In fact, the public pronouncements issued by the two parties during the Hung-Xi Summit contain a number of important messages.

 

Let us look at the convergence points of Hung-Xi talks. There are generally four specific points. The first point was the 1992 Consensus. Xi Jinping mentioned it three times. Hung Hsiu-chu also mentioned it three times. One time she referred to it as “the consensus reached in 1992." The second point concerned peace. Hung Hsiu-chu mentioned "peace" seven times. Xi Jinping mentioned peace eight times. The third point concerned opposition to Taiwan independence movement. Xi Jinping mentioned it two times, both after mentioning the 1992 Consensus. Hung Hsiu-chu mentioned it two times as well. The only difference was that she spoke of "opposing the Taiwan independence party platform", and "eliminating the dangerous turbulence caused by Taiwan independence separatism."

 

The fourth point was rather special, and differed from the first three points. The two party leaders refrained from mentioning "reunification". This amounted to passive convergence.

 

These four points of convergence can be further interpreted from the perspective of the KMT, the DPP, and the CCP. Take the case of the KMT. Hung Hsiu-chu did not commit any verbal gaffes. The 1992 Consensus remained the common denominator for the two sides. The two sides' affirmations of "peace" and "opposition to Taiwan independence" echoed the “no use of force” and “no Taiwan independence” in Ma Ying-jeou's Three Noes policy. Neither side elaborated on reunification, the fourth point. They left intact Ma Ying-jeou's “no reunification.” Therefore, the 1992 Consensus and Ma's Three Noes stood unshaken. The KMT, including Ma Ying-jeou and Wu Den-yih, were fearful that Hung Hsiu-chu's views on reunification would undermine the KMT's election prospects. They can now relax.

 

With respect to whether Hung Hsiu-chu would mention “one China, different interpretations,” as this newspaper's past editorials have repeatedly noted, during past KMT-CCP party leader meetings, even the Ma-Xi Summit, the KMT never made any public statement on “one China, different interpretations.” Demanding that Hung Hsiu-chu make such statement was clearly unfair.

 

In fact, Hung did more to reaffirm “one China, different interpretations” than her predecessors. She spoke of the wisdom on "seeking agreement on the one China principle, while shelving different interpretations of one China.” She was already half a step ahead.

 

For the DPP, Xi Jinping's message was clear. For the CCP, the 1992 Consensus and opposition to Taiwan independence are the bedrock foundation for cross-Strait relations. If the DPP wishes to unfreeze cross-Strait relations, it cannot evade these two issues. It must recognize, in a more positive or forward-moving manner, the 1992 Consensus. At a minimum, in the matter of the status of cross-Strait relations, it must have a narrative with which the Mainland can live, no matter how distasteful it may be. Only that will prevent the further deterioration of cross-Strait relations. Only that can lead the DPP and the CCP into a buffer zone of friction under control. That may not be easy for Tsai Ing-wen, but it is not impossible. At least, it is easier than dealing directly with the DPP totem known as the Taiwan Independence Party Platform.

 

Alas, Tsai Wen-wen's poll numbers continue to fall. Therefore, it is unlikely that she will make any breakthroughs regarding the 1992 Consensus or Taiwan Independence Party Platform, at least in the foreseeable future. This means that cross-Strait relations will continue to spiral downward. This is a concern for Tsai Ying-wen. It is also a danger to Taiwan's growth.

 

For the CCP, the Hung-Xi Summit was a “paint by the numbers” affair. First, the Mainland made certain that it did not want to send out any signals that might mislead the public on Taiwan whether the Mainland had tightened or loosened its cross-Strait stand. Second, the Mainland was probably reluctant to let Hung Hsiu-chu's visit add too many variables that would lead to uncertainty within her party and inside Taiwan. Third, the Mainland is probably aware of the covert jockeying for position leading up to next year's KMT party chairmanship election. It did not want its closer or more distant relations resulting from Hung Hsiu-chu's visit to be interpreted by the outside world as CCP support or non-support to Hung's candidacy for re-election.

 

During the Hung-Xi Summit, Hung Hsiu-chu advanced the possibility of a peace agreement, which was the one with the highest profile among the five shared visions made public after the Lien-Hu Summit in 2005. Ma Ying-jeou persistently avoided mention of it during his eight-year term of office. Hung Hsiu-chu advanced the issue of a peace agreement for the very first time during the talks. But the Mainland side downplayed the issue. That was too bad, we think. The notion of a peace agreement has been severely stigmatized on Taiwan in recent years. But in fact, a peace agreement is worth debating and can withstand scrutiny.

 

Cross-Strait peace must be institutionalized. But the notion of a peace agreement has long been stigmatized, mainly because the KMT is afraid to turn it into a political issue. It is afraid to defend an ideal which stands scrutiny. A positive response from the Mainland would encourage debate and discussion on Taiwan.

 

The Hung-Xi Summit offered little in the way of flash. But while the two sides are currently mired in cold confrontation, increased cross-Strait exchanges and communication are beneficial for people on both sides of the Strait. Hung Hsiu-chu proposed a path that would advance cross-Strait peace. Xi Jinping expressed the desire and bottom-line for peace. This made Mainland strategy for Taiwan clearer, and was the greatest achievement of the Hung-Xi Summit.

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