Who is surrendering the ball to China?
2002-06-26 / Taiwan News /

In an interview given while attending the International Democratic Alliance conference in Washington on June 10, Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan expressed the concern that America's stronger than ever support for Taiwan might tempt President Chen Shui-bian to push forward an "incremental Taiwan independence" policy, which, in his opinion would throw the Taiwan Straits into a crisis situation.

While Chairman Lien's concern over a possible cross-strait tragedy that might ensue from political miscalculations is understandable, we must nevertheless remind various political parties and politicians that, inasmuch as cross-strait tensions might at any time ignite into armed confrontation, it is even more imperative to be discreet in words and actions, in order to prevent oneself from becoming a source of misinformation and miscalculation.

China's opinion of Taiwan's leadership and its attitudes when forming Taiwan's policies -- to some degree -- reflect conclusions drawn from its collection, analysis and assessment of information originating from Taiwan politicians and topical media. Despite this fact, currently, when China is still taking a wait-and-see, "monitor-your-words-and deeds" attitude toward the Chen administration, we find opposition parties rushing to help China jump to a conclusion. As a Chinese think tank scholar candidly remarked, the so-called "incremental Taiwan independence" is an idea first voiced by Taiwan's own people, which China only needs to quote.

Another obvious example connected to this is talk about a so-called "1992 consensus," referring to a sentence in the accord produced by the Taiwan-China talks in Singapore in 1922, in which "one China" appeared accompanied by the notation that each side had its own interpretation of what it meant. Following the 2000 presidential election but before Chen Shui-bian took office, the then Chairman of the Mainland Affairs Commission Chairman, Su Chi (Ĭ_), suggested substituting the 19922 consensus for China's one-sided one-China stance. Thereafter, the "1992 consensus" became a mantra intoned by China along with its continued "one-China" chant, thus giving China a bargaining chip for free. We do not mean here to accuse any particular group of people of surrendering the ball to China, but we must nonetheless point out in all earnestness that, if there is ever to be a breakthrough in and improvement of deadlocked cross-straight relations, both ruling and opposition parties must fulfill their rightful responsibilities.

It is well known that a favorite tactic in China's united front warfare strategy is to preset a straitjacket framework for interaction, which it employs to limit the maneuvering room of its opponents -- "one-China" policy being such ploy together with the "Three Communiques" and Clinton's "Three Nos." As MAC Vice-Chairman Chen Ming-tong (q) once clarified on the occasion of a symposium activity, in its manipulation of such united front warfare frameworks, China not only reserves for itself the right to set, change, and interpret them but, even more importantly, claims the right to judge whether you have conformed with them and to mete out punishment for violating them. Very regrettably, the so-called "incremental Taiwan independence" way of talking has already been well utilized by China, injecting into whatever it pleases and using it as an effigy for criticizing and "fixing" Taiwan. This tactic, moreover, can be used by China as an excuse to chastise virtually any behavior -- from something as relatively inconsequential is adding the notation "Taiwan" to R.O.C. passports or wanting to rename our representative offices, to presidential trips overseas or weapons purchases -- as proof of Taiwan's "incremental Taiwan independence" conspiracy.

Besides being concerned whether misjudgments might lead Taiwan to rash actions, therefore, we must at the same time pay due attention to the danger of wild action on China's part inspired by misinformation. Now that it has come to the point where China can always use against us the pronouncements of our own politicians voiced in the heat of inter-party rivalry, it is high time for us to reflect deeply and mend our ways.