Wu’s new consensus seems a lot like the old consensus

The China Post news staff

Wu Poh-hsiung, honorary chairman of the Kuomintang, met with Hu Jintao, general-secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, in Beijing last week to talk about relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Wu offered a rephrased definition of the relations which he said was offered on behalf of “someone.” His definition is: a special area-to-area relationship. That “someone” was none other than President Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as chairman of the ruling Kuomintang. “Relations between the two sides of the Strait are not those between countries,” Wu elaborated, “for those relations are conducted by the Mainland Affairs Commission in accordance with the Statute Governing Relations Between the People in the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, not by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and therefore are an area-to-area special relationship rather than a state-to-state relationship.” Hu, who doubles as president of the People’s Republic of China, agreed but cautioned that the legal basis for the conduct of cross-strait relations is the “1992 Consensus,” an unsigned pact under which both Beijing and Taipei are agreed that there is but one China, the connotations of which can be defined separately by either side. Subsequently, Ma had his presidential spokesman point out that the “one China” is the Republic of China in Taiwan. The Democratic Progressive Party is vehemently opposed to the rephrased definition — officially, of course. When Deng Xiaoping offered his famous “one country, two systems” relationship, applicable to Hong Kong as well as Taiwan, President Lee Teng-hui counter-offered his “one country, two governments” doctrine, which differs from Deng’s in name but little else. Lee later changed it to a “special state-to-state” relationship, earning the ire of Beijing where he was called a secessionist, though he had helped both sides reach the “1992 Consensus.” Again, the special state-to-state relationship is just a rectification-of-names word game. President Chen Shui-bian did not offer any definition, because he wanted to create an independent, sovereign republic of Taiwan.

Now, President Ma has offered an area-to-area relationship, which makes no difference in essence at all. As a matter of fact, all the doctrines are just rephrased ones, the rephrasing being loved by the Chinese whose greatest sage Confucius insists “right names” have to be used in order just to make things right.