By Joe Hhung
Ker Chien-ming, Democratic Progressive Party legislative caucus whip, proposed to freeze the Taiwan independence clause in the party’s charter on Dec. 26. The proposal was made at the last of a series of meetings the party held in an attempt to achieve consensus on its China policy. The charter was written in 1986 while Taiwan was still under martial law and the clause proclaims that the ultimate purpose of the party is to create a republic of Taiwan. The purpose that Ker said he wanted to achieve by freezing the clause is to get the party back in power. The party fielded Chen Shui-bian in the presidential election of 2000, which he won to put an end to the Kuomintang’s one-party rule of Taiwan for more than a half century. The Kuomintang came back to power when Ma Ying-jeou was elected president in 2008. Ma has to step down as president in 2016 and Ker’s party has a timely chance for a shoo-in in the presidential election, if it can prove it is able to deal with the People’s Republic of China just as the Kuomintang has. The Kuomintang has been able to achieve a detente with China, thanks to what is known as the Consensus of 1992, which President Lee Teng-hui set in place that year as a modus vivendi to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. The unsigned pact stipulates that Taipei and Beijing agree that there is but one China whose connotation can be separately elucidated orally. Beijing deems this “one China with different interpretations” doctrine outdated, and is advocating for a “one-China framework” principle to take its place to hasten Chinese unification. That principle, which has yet to be finalized, certainly needs cross-strait dialogue to come into being as a new modus vivendi for what Chinese President Xi Jinping calls the peaceful development of relations between China and Taiwan.
But the ruling Kuomintang is sticking to the Consensus of 1992. That’s why Frank Hsieh, a former premier who ran for president as the standard bearer of the Democratic Progressive Party in 2008, is testing the waters by offering a doctrine of “one China under different constitutions.” Beijing doesn’t take to the Hsieh doctrine, which is basically the same as the Consensus of 1992. At home, Hsieh’s comrades blasted him for getting too close to the Kuomintang. In the meantime, the opposition party reopened its China affairs office, which held the series of meetings to come up with a better one-China principle.