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Three “ROCs” on Taiwan


 A Commentary

Three “ROCs” on Taiwan
Source: China Times
May 19, 2014
Lin Ching-yuan
Associate Professor of Department of Economics
Tamkang University
Taiwan is a topsy-turvy place, and the root of the chaos is the struggle between the three Republic of Chinas.  Even as the struggle intensifies, no one knows when the struggle will end.
The Republic of China (ROC), founded by Dr. Sun Yat-sen in 1912 (dubbed as version 1), set the goal of resisting foreign aggression and rejuvenating the Chinese nation.   The ROC’s ordained mission was to restore Chinese rule over Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and reunify the Chinese nation.  The nation’s territory was stipulated in its Constitution, written in 1946, and the ROC territory covered the existing territory on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
The ROC in 1949, dubbed as version 2, retreated to Taiwan after suffering defeat in the civil war between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).  When late President Chiang Kai-shek relocated to Taiwan, he still intended to retake the Mainland.  Chiang Ching-kuo and his successor only aimed to fight against the CCP.  Version 2 of the ROC restricted its territory to Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.  The public of version 2 of the ROC accepted such a view and regarded Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu as the entire nation.
After Lee Teng-hui was elected as President in 1996, the ROC adopted a new definition, version 3 of the ROC.  Shih Ming-te (施明德) and Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) claimed that Taiwan was a sovereign state and its official title was the ROC.  Version 3 of the ROC was a veil, and the “Republic of Taiwan” was what they desired.  Those who supported Taiwan independence movement loathed version 3 of the ROC, but they needed the title as a veil to protect the “Republic of Taiwan.”  Taiwan and Penghu were the territory of version 3 of the ROC, while, Kinmen, Matsu, and other outlying islands were their burdens.
Those who supported version 1 of the ROC advocated reunification under freedom and democracy, and they deeply suffered the pain of a separate state believing that reunification was the correct path to promote the national interests and righteousness of the nation.  The majority of those who supported reunification assumed that maintaining the status quo while marching toward reunification was the best arrangement for the two sides of the Strait.  They would not change their stance unless circumstances forced their hand.  Those who advocated version 2 of the ROC were mainly pan-Blue camp supporters because they knew that the Taiwan independence movement was a deadend and could not work.  However, they did not support reunification, either.
They used “autonomy,” “parity,” and “dignity” as excuses to reject reunification from the very beginning, but now they considered “no unification” and “no independence” as orthodox assumptions for de facto Taiwan independence (獨台or Tu Tai).  Compared to the other two versions of the ROC, those who support de facto Taiwan independence lack passion and vision.  Those who support Taiwan independence movement or version 3 of the ROC are mostly pan-Green camp supporters.  The nutrients that nurture Taiwan independence movement are perceptual appeals, self-inflicted viewpoints of history and the belief that the CCP is an enemy.  Those who support de facto Taiwan independence have gradually been marginalized because they lack faith and cannot disarm people who support Taiwan independence movement.
Many blame the skirmishes between the pan-Blue and pan-Green camps for Taiwan’s internal depletion of vigor.   Many tend to think that the pan-Blue camp advocates reunification while the pan-Green camp supports Taiwan independence movement.  Politics in Taiwan are mostly focused on arguments between the pan-Blue and pan-Green camps, but people who support reunification are quite different from both camps and have little say in Taiwan’s politics. 
Shelving disputes and maintaining the status quo became the only solution to resolve the cross-Strait stalemate and the first consensus acceptable to most people in Taiwan.  The second consensus is that our national title is the ROC.
However, the cross-Strait status quo continues to evolve and will never remain frozen in space.  Shelving so-called cross-Strait disputes means shelving Taiwan’s future.
The second above-mentioned consensus is like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand in the face of danger.  The ROC is a bed, and three different versions of the ROC are each in the midst of their own dreams.  The struggle continues inside and outside the dream.
The ROC government under the Ma administration advocates version 2 of the ROC and celebrated with the US the 35th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act.  The Ma administration drew a line with the Mainland for the sake of “no unification.”  When anti-Chinese riots broke out in Vietnam, David Lin (林永樂), the Minister of Foreign Affairs, reiterated that Taiwan was not part of Mainland China.  The Foreign Ministry instructed the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hanoi, Vietnam, to distribute stickers saying “I am Taiwanese. I am from Taiwan.” in Vietnamese to Taiwanese businessmen for their protection.
In the face of the disadvantageous situation, Taiwan independence movement and de facto Taiwan independence supporters did their utmost to monopolize Taiwan’s politics, further marginalizing pro-reunification forces.   
【Editor’s note: According to the ROC Constitution, both the Mainland Area and Taiwan Area belong to the Republic of China.】

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