This essay will consist of responses to some specific points in Dr. Chu’s paper and will conclude with a brief explanation of why China does not, in fact, have a legal and legitimate claim to Taiwan and its associated islands.
… “The Academic Dialogue series is intended to help the governments and societies of Mainland China and Taiwan to locate the problems, concerns, demands, and misunderstandings of the two sides across the Strait, (sic) in order to improve the communication, stabilization, and progress in cross-Strait relations.”
The overwhelming majority of the problems in this arena comes from the west side of the Taiwan Strait. First of all, Taiwan’s society in general is far more open than Taiwan’s is. To be fair, China has come a long way in many areas, but not in terms of being able to openly and frankly discuss matters of a historical and/or political nature. In this regard, Taiwan is far more freewheeling. Taiwanese can get away with criticism that would land a Chinese person in jail.
Also, it is the Chinese side that blocks many websites on the Taiwan side from the view of the Chinese populace, including Taiwanese governmental sites, news sites, blogs and social networking sites commonly used by young people in Taiwan. Of course, the concern from Beijing could very easily be that opening up these sites to the eyes of the Chinese would bring the realization to people inside China that the majority of Taiwanese, especially amongst its young, have no desire to have a political union with our neighbors to the west.
It is also well known that it is Beijing that is issuing all of the threats. It is Beijing that launched missiles in 1996 to intimidate Taiwanese voters prior to our first presidential election. It is Beijing that is targeting more than one thousand missiles. It is the Chinese army that conducts drills to simulate an invasion of Taiwan. Taiwan is not doing any of these things. Taiwan has no designs on China or its territory. The true problem here is Beijing, not Taipei.
“…the requirement that tourist trips take place in groups was one of the problems…”(referring to the fact that, until this week, Chinese tourists coming to Taiwan were required to be in tour groups)
It must be understood that Chinese tourists in Taiwan is a sensitive issue and thus many in Taiwan support reasonable restrictions on Chinese tourists. It must be remembered that China’s government claims the entire country of Taiwan as its own territory, so Chinese tourists are suspect by many. There is also the behavior of Chinese tourists here. Many Taiwanese have become disgusted by the rude behavior of many tourists once they are here. I have been witness to some of this behavior myself. And while Dr. Chu downplays the issue, there already is a problem with illegal Chinese immigration in Taiwan. Restrictions put in place are with the aim of reducing the risk of further illegal Chinese immigrants remaining in Taiwan.
“One of those ‘political issues’ is the very concept of ‘political talks’ between the Mainland and Taiwan. Mainland participants have tried hard to explain why political talks are necessary, the importance of the talks in ‘normalizing’ cross-Strait relations…”
During the administrations of both Lee Tung-hui and Chen Shui-bian, Taiwan desired to talk to China. It was the Chinese side who balked initially, and then imposed pre-conditions that were not acceptable to President Chen. The notion that Taiwan must accept the idea that it is a part of China is opposed by most of the people in Taiwan. Typically, the goal in talks is to come to a compromise, but if Taiwan gives up on the key issue as a condition of talks, what is the use of compromise?
“…the Mainland side has to rely on military deployment to some degree, to deter possible Taiwan movement toward the (sic) independence, especially is a pro-independence force such as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) comes to power in Taiwan in the future. Besides, the Mainland participants try to convey to the Taiwan side that the Mainland military deployment along its co(a)st (sic) is no longer focusing on Taiwan, but increasingly goes beyond Taiwan and counters growing American military activities in the Western Pacific, which are certainly a threat to China’s national security.”
China’s military build-up, Anti-Succession (sic) Law and insistence that Taiwan agrees to its pre-conditions only proves that China is not the sincere party. The reality is that international law does not support China’s claim to Taiwan and its surrounding islands. Also, it is the Chinese military that is a national security threat to many of its neighbors. Japan, South Korea, Viet Nam, the Philippines, Indonesia in addition to Taiwan are all wary of China based on its actions, along with the actions of its proxy in the DPRK. U.S. action in the area is in response to protecting its friends and allies in the region. The U.S. conducted exercises with South Korea in response to aggression against the latter by the DPRK, a state who receives material and political/diplomatic support from the government in Beijing. China has caused increasing angst in the South China Sea in the territorial waters and EEZs of Viet Nam, the Philippines and Indonesia. It is clear that it is China and its friends that are the threat to the national security of other states in the region, including, of course, Taiwan.
“If the DPP regains power next year, the impact on cross-Strait relations and the ‘normalization process’ between the two sides would be fundamental and significant.”
Tsai Ing-wen, the DPP presidential nominee, has repeatedly said that she supports engagement with China. However, what she and the rest of the DPP reject are China’s unreasonable pre-conditions. The only way there will ever be normalized relations between Beijing and Taipei will be when Beijing realizes that Taiwan is not part of China and that Taiwan’s people have no desire to be a part of China.
“The Mainland side insists that the ‘One China Principle” and “the 1992 Consensus” form the necessary foundation and pre-condition for official contact, dialogue, and improvement of cross-Taiwan Strait relations in the past, today, and in the future.”
The problem is that the existence of the so-called “1992 Consensus” is denied by people in Taiwan who were in a position to know about discussions between the two sides in 1992. Furthermore, Taiwan’s government was not yet elective, thus it can be said that it did not represent the will of Taiwan’s people. The Chinese side has to understand that Taiwan today is a democracy and that the government needs to reflect the will of the people. The reality is that Taiwan’s people do not accept the premises of the so-called Consensus.
“Therefore, if the DPP wins the election in Taiwan next year, cross-Strait relations may come to a standstill again, even if the confrontation of a few years ago may not resume.”
Once again, this would be because the Chinese side calls off talks or imposes unacceptable pre-conditions to those talks. It is incumbent on Beijing to drop its pre-conditions for plausible talks to progress.
“It will certainly not progress to reunification (sic) until far into the future.”
The Chinese side needs to realize that a large majority of Taiwan’s people have no desire for unification with China. And with the passage of time, that majority grows ever larger.
“Only after the 2005 talks and joint statement by the KMT and the Communist Party of China (CPC) about cross-strait (sic) relations, (sic) did the Mainland begin to agree to talks, (sic) and even call for them itself.
You, of course, fail to note that in 2005 the KMT was not the governing party in Taiwan, the DPP was. The KMT did not represent Taiwan at that time. And once again, Beijing’s calls were with pre-conditions that are not acceptable to most Taiwanese people.
“Elections in the past twenty year indicate that the so-called Pan Blue, Pan-Green and the Middle (sic) each has roughly one-third of (sic) support on major political issues in Taiwan, including on cross-Strait relations.”
This is an over-simplification. Yes, in general this is indicative of party support in Taiwan. However, if you think only one-third regard Taiwan as a separate country, you really have a problem in China. Nearly the entire “middle” already regards Taiwan as separate from China and many light-Blues also agree. Most people speak of living in “Taiwan” (臺灣), not in “China” (中國) or the “Republic of China” (中華民國). This is a reality of the everyday language of most in Taiwan and is indicative of the mindset of the people.
“Therefore, the DPP would continue its basic line on Taiwan independence and opposition to anything related to Mainland China (feng zhong bi fan), including evening welcoming pandas from Mainland China to zoos in Taiwan…”
Well, of course the DPP will continue its line on independence. This is a basic right of Taiwan’s people. And as for the pandas, you seem to be ignoring the basic reasons for that opposition. One regards the names of the pandas, which when translated means “unify”, which is offensive to many in Taiwan. Another relates to the fact that China refused to file paperwork with relevant agencies related to the transport of endangered animals from one state to another state.
“…even violent approaches to carry out their strategies and policies, including physically beating the Mainland officials…”
It is not a policy of the DPP to use violence against Mainland officials. There was an unfortunate incident in Tainan, but the nature of that is in dispute and is not as clear an act of violence as many would like to portray it as.
It is clear that the problems in the relationship between the two comes from the Chinese side. It stems from the fact that China fails to recognize that Taiwan and its people have legitimate rights in the international community. China has no legal claim to the island. Qing China, the prior sovereign, signed away its rights to Taiwan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895. It is a clear principle of international law, based on a long history of state practice, that the only way territory can be transferred from one state to another state is through a signed, ratified, and executed treaty. The post-war treaty, the San Francisco Peace Treaty (signed in 1951, ratified and executed in 1952) provided no mechanism for a transfer to Chinese sovereignty. Japan waives its own claim to the island, but there is no transfer as required under international law for China to claim sovereignty. Thus, the Taiwanese people and only the Taiwanese people have the right to chart Taiwan’s future. It is in the interest of China to recognize this and accept the fact that Taiwan is not a part of China and that Taiwan’s people have no desire to be a part of China. Most of Taiwan’s people of all political stripes want to have good, friendly, and mutually beneficial relations with China. However, it must be a relationship based on mutual respect and equality.