The China Post news staff
The China Post news staff–President Ma Ying-jeou’s re-election was a vote of confidence in favor of his China policy, paving the way for further improvements to cross-strait ties, observers said. The ”1992 Consensus” that Ma embraces played a crucial role in boosting his campaign, with many business leaders speaking up in support of what is considered to be the “irreplaceable” foundation of cross-strait ties.
Now the president needs to think how far he wants to take Taiwan on the road to closer ties with China. Tsai Ing-wen — the chairwoman of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party who rejected the “1992 Consensus” as pure fiction created by Ma and the ruling Kuomintang — also needs to consider whether it will be possible for her camp to continue to adhere to an anti-China platform. Taipei and Beijing may not have reached an agreement to allow them to disagree on the meaning of “one China” in 1992, but the “fiction” is now definitely an established discourse that is accepted by both sides as common ground. Tsai, who lost the presidential vote to the incumbent, obviously is well aware of the crucial role of cross-strait relations, but clearly she has been unable to convince the nation that she offers a better alternative to the “1992 Consensus.” In the final days ahead of the presidential vote she was absent from an international press conference where she would have been grilled over her China policies. Tsai already showed a degree of willingness to make concessions by promising that if elected, she would accept the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) signed between the Ma administration and Beijing. The ECFA has been one of the major breakthroughs in cross-strait ties since Ma became president in 2008. Ma has also introduced direct flights across the strait and opened the doors of Taiwan to Chinese tourists. More breakthroughs can be expected in the next four years, bringing Taiwan and China even closer. There have been speculations that Ma could make a historic trip to China although the president has played down such a possibility. More breakthroughs in cross-strait ties will also reduce the possibility of Taiwan closing the door again on its giant neighbor, forcing the DPP to adjust its China policy. And four years from now, the “1992 Consensus” will be an even firmer basis for cross-strait ties — unless Beijing does something drastic to undermine it. Ironically the DPP will have to reinvent itself upon a foundation that Ma has laid down. Cross-strait ties have been a major stumbling block for the DPP. The opposition party will definitely want a comeback in 2016, but it needs to come up with a China policy acceptable both to the voters here on the island and to Beijing. Tsai chose to avoid the issue, but the DPP will have to face it in the next four years.