Sunday, January 15, 2012

1992 Consensus vs. Taiwan Consensus

Over 6.89 million votes cast by the electorate in favor of the incumbent President Ma Ying-jeou to lead Taiwan for four more years told one truth, i.e, the majority voters have recognized that it is to the utmost interest of this island to maintain steady relations with mainland China. Soon after the poll yesterday, a number of local political critics pointed out that Tsai Ying-wen, the chairwoman of opposition Democratic Progressive Party and Ma’s major rival this time, lost because of her failed challenge of “1992 Consensus.”

"1992 Consensus" was a tacit modus vivendi reached in that year in Singapore where the representatives of Taipei and Beijing met and agreed that there is but “one China” and the connotation of which can be stated separately. Before then, the two Chinese governments, both the Republic of China on Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China on the mainland claimed that it itself was the legitimate sole heir of China and denied the existence of the other. Since then, the two “Chinas” across the Taiwan Strait put differences aside and paved the road for close economic and trade exchanges. Things had been running smoothly until the presidential campaign started last year.

Tsai, former head of the Mainland Affairs Council (2000-2004) when DPP was the ruling party of Taiwan, bound by DPP’s fundamentalist ideology and eager to please their supporters, denied the existence of 1992 Consensus and proposed a “Taiwan Consensus” instead. The act immediately started the panic of local businessmen who had already invested so much on mainland China and would risk the loss of their investment if “1992 Consensus” was deemed non-existent. As the voting day was getting closer, more business tycoons spoke openly to support Ma and his ECFA, the economic cooperation framework agreement that was signed with mainland China under the 1992 Consensus to enlarge the opportunities for Taiwan businessmen to go further in pursuit of success in keen global competition.

During the campaign, DPP challenged Ma by asking to submit a copy of “1992 Consensus” in black and white. In fact, “1992 Consensus” was a modus vivendi, a Latin expression for a temporary agreement between contending parties pending a final settlement, and it was tacitly agreed meaning it was understood mutually through implication and inference without direct expression. It was indeed a very delicately designed solution to resolve the long-lasting difference between the two sides since 1949. On the other hand, no one, Tsai herself included, could tell clearly the content of DPP’s proposed “Taiwan Consensus.” No wonder Douglas Paal, former director of American Institute in Taiwan, who came to Taipei to observe the election, described it as hollow and showed that Tsai did not really seriously consider having dialogues with Beijing if elected. Paal’s view indicated that Tsai’s idea was not to the best interest of the U.S.

The result of this election showed one thing. People on this island wanted stability and would make sure of it by stamping their ballots right, the true essence of democracy.

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