TAIPEI (CNA) — The heavy defeat suffered by the Kuomintang (KMT) in Saturday’s presidential and legislative elections has sparked calls for internal reforms and a review of its stance on relations with China from its younger members.
The 28-year-old “1992 consensus” the KMT has advocated as the basis for interaction between Taiwan and China may be “outdated,” Taipei City Council Yu Shu-hui (游淑慧) said in a post on her Facebook page a day after the elections.
“The question of whether a formula born 28 years ago is still appropriate for today and can still be identified with was answered by the voting,” the 43-year-old Yu wrote.
Describing the “1992 consensus” as an “outdated suit,” Yu, a member of the younger generation within the over 100-year-old political party, suggested the KMT to find a new path.
Old positions, she argued, should be reviewed because “political parties should not be bound by inflexibility.”
Part of the problem with the “1992 consensus,” she wrote, is that many Taiwanese today do not know how the “1992 consensus” came about, and it has now been “distorted” into being equated with China’s “one country, two systems” model and used to “smear” people.
The consensus was a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then KMT government and the Chinese government.
The consensus has been consistently interpreted by the KMT as both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledging there is only “one China” with each free to interpret what “China” means.
However, Beijing has never publicly recognized the second part of the KMT interpretation.
The “one country, two systems” model has been used by Beijing to assert that Hong Kong and Macau are part of China while giving them some autonomy in running their own affairs.
Unlike them, Taiwan has been a self-ruled political entity with its own constitution, national flag and national designation called “the Republic of China” since 1949.
Like Yu, departing Legislator-at-large Hsu Yu-jen (許毓仁), 41, also doubted whether the KMT’s broad political positions are aligned with mainstream thinking in contemporary Taiwanese society.
“The 1992 consensus has collapsed,” he said in a Facebook post on Sunday, and warned that the KMT would never beat the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in the next decade if it failed to fix the “structural problem.”
He said the election results indicated that people voted against the KMT’s China-friendly path.
“Anti-China sentiment was particularly strong in the under-45 age group,” Hsu said.
That age group encompassed 7 million eligible voters, including 1.18 million first-time young voters, and nearly 70 percent of them are anti-China, he said.
In four years, the anti-China group will not shrink but the group of elderly KMT supporters will, Hsu cautioned.
He urged the party to hold internal debates on its China policy and invite younger voices to join.
“The KMT must convince people that it can handle cross-Taiwan Strait relations properly without sacrificing Taiwan’s freedom and democracy,” he said.
In Saturday’s presidential election, Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the KMT lost to incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP by nearly 20 percentage points, while James Soong of the People First Party — a KMT splinter party — got only 4.3 percent of the vote.
Tsai received over 8 million votes, the most any presidential candidate has won in any direct presidential election in Taiwan, which have been held since 1996.
The KMT also won only 38 seats in the 113-seat Legislature in the legislative elections, falling short of the DPP’s 61 seats.
Among KMT members at the local level, Yunlin County Magistrate Chang Li-shan (張麗善), who won office in the traditional DPP-stronghold in 2018, and Changhua County Magistrate Wang Hui-mei (王惠美) both urged the party to listen to people’s opinions.
As the “1992 consensus” failed to win public support, the KMT should reconsider the orientation and future path of its policy on China, Wang was cited as saying by her aide Monday.
In a platform presentation forum ahead of the election, Han reiterated his party’s long-held position that adherence to the “1992 consensus” must be the basis for any cross-strait interaction.
Tsai argued that the “consensus” was “a mere illusion” because China does not recognize the idea that each side is free to interpret “one China” as it sees fit.