A high degree of autonomy.
After reunification, Taiwan. . . will have its own administrative and legislative powers, an independent judiciary and the right of adjudication on the island. It will run its own party, political, military, economic and financial affairs. It may conclude commercial and cultural agreements with foreign countries and enjoy certain rights in foreign affairs. It may keep its military forces and the mainland will not dispatch troops or administrative personnel to the island . . . representatives of the government of Taiwan may be appointed to senior posts in the central government and participate in the running of national affairs. Taiwan Affairs Office, Beijing, August 1993
Develop cooperative habits first. If the Chinese mainland can renounce military intimidation and respect the people's free will, the two sides can begin with integration in the cultural, economic, and trade fields, before further seeking a new framework for permanent peace and political integration. President Chen Shui-bian, January 1, 2002
The core issues for China are not the same as the core issues for Taiwan and as a result the two sides talk past each other. China and Taiwan have each identified issues that are the most important to them. The central issue for China is the degree of autonomy that Taiwan will have after some form of unification. The key issues for Taiwan have to do with creating conditions now for later talks about unification and the degree of autonomy. Taiwan wants to be considered an equal "political entity" during the negotiations; a time that is considered a "temporary, transitional phenomenon."434
By not agreeing on a core issue, negotiations fail to make progress. China tries to move directly to negotiations on this core issue of degree of autonomy while Taiwan is preoccupied with procedural issues about the negotiating process. In other words, China wants the negotiation over unification or the form of future political integration to begin, Taiwan wants to first negotiate the shape of the negotiating table and avoid all discussions on the future relationship between the two sides. This chapter will examine both side’s issues and the impact of one on the other. It will also include China’s issues with the United States and American issues with China.
Until 1887 the status of Taiwan was similar to territories, like Hawaii in the United States, before statehood. In 1887 Taiwan was made a province of China, but in 1895 it was ceded to Japan after China lost a war with Japan. Taiwan was Japan’s colony until 1945 when it was returned to China as a result of Japan’s losing World War II. At that time the Nationalist Government under Chiang Kai-shek was the de facto (actual) and de jure (by law) government of China. In 1949 the Communist Government under Mao Zedong replaced the Nationalist Government which fled to and maintained control of Taiwan. Since 1949 Taiwan has been de facto independent, but not de jure. While both sides agreed that Taiwan was part of China, they disagreed over which was the legitimate government of China. Since the 1960s a third force, consisting of native Taiwanese, has come upon the scene insisting that Taiwan should become independent under the principle of self-determination.
The crux of the issue is the degree of autonomy Taiwan will enjoy once some form of accommodation is reached. At one end of a spectrum of possibilities is independence and on the other end is a complete unification in a unitary political system with all control emanating from Beijing. The key to negotiations is to find a compromise between the two extremes that is acceptable to both sides. It is likely to be some form of federated system, a confederation or commonwealth, that allows Taiwan to maintain a high degree of autonomy.
Figure 5—1 Political Relationship Schematic
The official Chinese position on the degree of autonomy that Taiwan would have after unification is clear and consistent.435 The seeds of the idea were presented by Deng Xiaoping at the historic 3d plenum of the Chinese Communist Party’s 11thCentral Committee in December 1978. That is the watershed point at which Deng changed the basis for Chinese policy development from ideology to pragmatic criteria.
Part of the motivation for China to articulate a more pragmatic policy on the Taiwan issue came from the conclusion of an agreement with the United States to recognize China in 1972. In that Shanghai Communiqué the U.S. acknowledged that:
… all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. (and) The United States Government does not challenge that position.
The next step came on January 1, 1979 when the U.S. diplomatically recognized China and issued the second communiqué. In that communiqué was written:
The United States of America and the People's Republic of China have agreed to recognize each other and to establish diplomatic relations as of January 1, 1979. The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China. Within this context, the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan.
The discussions and documents that led to American recognition of China provided the compromise necessary for the diplomatic change; it also left the issue unclear. The issue of Taiwan was at the center of all three communiqués between China and the United States and is still the principal impediment to completely normalized relations. Some form of reunification would solve the problem and open even more doors for China’s modernization efforts. It would also be a major contribution to regional peace and stability.
On January 16, 1980 Deng made a major speech to the Communist Party entitled “The Present Situation and the Tasks before us.”436 In that speech he mentioned Taiwan, but in very general terms. It mentioned reunification as a task or goal, but it did not explain how it was to be accomplished. The thrust of his speech was that modernization, by consolidating political and economic gains, was the highest priority. He implied that reunification was a secondary priority at that point. Even at a major speech to the military on July 4, 1982, he did not mention Taiwan. His main concern was to reform and modernize the military and the country first.
Chinese policy on reunification has been remarkably consistent since Ye Jianying first presented his “Nine Points for Peaceful Reunification” on September 30, 1981. Four of the nine points addressed the issue of how much autonomy in general terms:
1. After the country is reunified, Taiwan can enjoy a high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region and it can retain its armed forces. The Central Government will not interfere with local affairs on Taiwan. 2. Taiwan's current socio-economic system will remain unchanged, so will its way of life and its economic and cultural relations with foreign countries.
3. There will be no encroachment on the proprietary rights and lawful rights of inheritance over private property, houses, land and enterprises, or on foreign investments. 4. People in authority and representative personages of various circles in Taiwan may take up posts of leadership in national political bodies and participate in running the state.
The National People’s Congress added the political concept of “special administrative region,” in addition to provinces, autonomous regions and special municipalities, to the Constitution in 1982. That provided the legal basis for establishing areas that are governed differently from existing political units.
Official mention of reunification in a 1983 speech by Deng Xiaoping, began to elaborate on the principles laid out by Ye Jianying but the term “One Country Two Systems” had not yet emerged. At a major speech to the Party’s Central Military Commission on June 4, 1984, the topic of recovering Taiwan was still not mentioned.
The first mention to the outside world of “One Country Two Systems” as a slogan for the concept that had developed came out on June 22, 1984, when Deng Xiaoping held talks with members of a Hong Kong industrial and commercial delegation and with Szeyuen Chung and other prominent Hong Kong figures. He told them that he had previously presented the idea to the National People’s Congress.
In 1984 negotiations between China and Britain over the future of Hong Kong peaked. China inserted the notion of “One China Two Systems” into the dialogue and Deng mentioned it several times in official statements. It appears as though Deng’s initial idea of two systems was primarily the economic systems – capitalism and socialism. The final agreement to peacefully hand Hong Kong back to China came on December 19, 1984.
Once China and Britain agreed on the return they had to work out the details for the future political status of Hong Kong; the degree of Hong Kong autonomy. The product of this process, which began in 1985 with the formation of the Basic Law Consultative Committee, made up of Chinese and Hong Kong citizens, was the Basic Law.437 The process included the publishing of a first draft in April 1988, followed by five months of public consultation. A second draft was published in February 1989, and that was followed by another consultation period that lasted until October 1989. Finally the National Peoples Congress formally promulgated the Basic Law on April 4, 1990.438 Not only was Hong Kong’s degree of autonomy established, the Chinese named the area the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and approved it to have its own emblem and flag.
From the beginning China considered Hong Kong a precedent for the eventual return of Taiwan. They knew the entire process and the results would be carefully scrutinized by Taiwan and would become a precedent. The Basic Law provided a blueprint for negotiating the degree of autonomy for Taiwan.
The main principles for setting the degree of autonomy were:
. Final legislative and executive authority for all Hong Kong matters resides in Hong Kong. .Independent judicial authority and final adjudication resides in Hong Kong. .Capitalist system can remain for fifty years. .All previous laws, except those that contravene the Basic Law, can be maintained. .China will be responsible for defense and foreign affairs. .Property rights will be guaranteed. .Basic personal rights and freedoms will be guaranteed. .Hong Kong will provide representatives to central government.
The offer to Taiwan went beyond the Hong Kong Basic Law. It would allow Taiwan to retain its armed forces, engage in limited foreign affairs (cultural and economic), and would place no limits on the length of time the capitalist system can continue. Neither the Taiwan offer nor the Hong Kong Basic Law mentions the role of democracy, although the Hong Kong formula mentions freedoms which are associated with democracy and the Taiwan offer notes that China will not interfere in local policy.
The next major articulation of China’s position occurred when President Jiang Zemin made a Chinese New Year’s speech on January 30, 1995. That speech was for all Chinese, but it was especially aimed at Taiwan’s citizens and leaders. The speech included “Jiang’s Eight Points,” which were all designed to hasten the pace of negotiations and contacts, but did not include any elaboration of the future status of Taiwan. The second point did agree that Taiwan could develop “non-governmental” economic and cultural ties with other countries, but the context was to define China’s position that any effort by Taiwan on the international stage that could lead to “two Chinas” or “one China one Taiwan” would upset the negotiation process.
The first of the eight points has become the central issue for negotiations.
Adherence to the principle of one China is the basis and premise for peaceful reunification. China’s sovereignty and territory must never be allowed to suffer split. 439 We must firmly oppose any words or actions aimed at creating an "independent Taiwan" and the propositions "split the country and rule under separate regimes", "two Chinas over a certain period of time", etc., which are in contravention of the principle of one China.
This point set the precondition that Taiwan would have to agree to the principle of “one China” before negotiations could be successful.440 While China initially meant this article to describe the final solution to the issue by making it clear that while some degree of autonomy would be allowed, the ultimate status of Taiwan would have to be as part of one China. Anything short of overall Chinese sovereignty would not be acceptable to China.
As the year 2003 began it became clear that one or both sides would have to compromise on the definition or use of the term “one China” before negotiations could be restarted.441 Until that happened the two sides could not even begin to discuss the central issue of degree of autonomy for Taiwan. In the meantime functional contact problems would be handled outside the framework of the formal negotiations.
From the time of the 1991 Guidelines for National Unification, Taiwan has issued documents and made official and unofficial pronouncements by key leaders that clearly indicate to the Chinese that they are positioning themselves for eventual independence.
At first the desire for independence only showed up in the statements of opposition party factions: at that time the Democratic Progressive Party.442 But as early as 1992 the incumbent Nationalist Party, began to develop policies that seemed to China to be designed to move Taiwan into a position where they could ultimately declare independence and this became an important sub- issue for China. In the summer of 1992 Taiwan began its campaign to re-enter the United Nations, a political body for which the entry criteria is based on state sovereignty. In 1994, Taiwan began to promote the notions of “one country, two political entities” (一个国家，两个 政治实体) and state to state negotiations and since these concepts were not designed to describe the ultimate goal of unification, but the period of time before negotiations began, they appeared to China to be part of a plot to move toward splitting the country.
Talks between the two sides began in 1991 and since that time have been seriously interrupted twice because of what China perceived as movement toward independence. The first time was when Taiwan’s President Lee Tenghui visited his alma mater, Cornell University, in New York from June 8 to 10, 1995.443 He was asked to give the commencement speech. During the speech Lee used the term “Republic of China” seventeen times. He described the “Taiwan experience” and identified Taiwan as different from China, particularly in the democratization process. This was the point at which Chinese leaders and scholars perceived Lee’s real purpose to be Taiwan independence. They reacted strongly by recalling their Ambassador to the U.S. and canceling several official visits. They also “postponed” all formal negotiations and discussions (See Chapter 6). No substantive meetings occurred for over three years. From this point on, China began to pay more attention to definitions, actions and discussions of “one China.”
Nineteen ninety-nine was a critical year in cross strait relations. The Taiwan side began to consolidate its notion of state-to-state relations. On April 8, President Lee made a major speech to his National Unification Council to provide guidelines for future endeavors. In the speech he stated:
The development of cross strait relations should begin from recognition of the historical fact and political reality of separate rule by two distinct but equal political entities.While promoting cross-strait relations, we must not waver in our stance of giving top priority to national existence, as well as placing the people's safety and welfare foremost.
A major step perceived by China was the publication of President Lee Tenghui’s autobiography: Taiwan’s Viewpoints on May 20, 1999.444 Even though President Lee had made statements that could be interpreted as pro-independence in the past, 445 this was the point at which it became clear to the Chinese that even the Nationalist Party was preparing for independence in indirect ways. Dr. Yan Xuetong446 then of the prestigious and influential China Institute for Contemporary International Relations, outlined five relatively sophisticated strategies for movement toward independence that appeared in Lee’s book:
(1) develop a sense of nationalism or national identity, (2) highlight the notion of state sovereignty, (3) change history to describe Taiwan as a separate country rather than part of China, (4) promote the idea of the Republic of China on Taiwan in the international arena, and (5) pursue some form of military alliance with the United States. Lee at one point also suggested splitting China into seven parts to make it more manageable.
The next major breach by President Lee, from China’s perspective, was on July 9, 1999 when he was interviewed by a German reporter. In that interview he stated:
The 1991 constitutional amendments have designated cross-strait relations as a state-to-state relationship or at least a special state-to-state relationship, rather than an internal relationship between a legitimate government and a renegade group, or between a central government and a local government.
Not only did President Lee and the incumbent party appear to China to be moving toward independence, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also gained a strong voice in the run-up to the 2000 presidential election. The DPP published three major documents that clearly indicated their goal of Taiwan independence. The first, in May, was the Resolution on the Future of Taiwan passed by the DPP Congress. The second article of the resolution made the DPP position very clear:
1. Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country. Any change in the independent status quo must be decided by all the residence of Taiwan by means of plebiscite. 2. Taiwan is not a part of the People's Republic of China. China's unilateral advocacy of the "One China Principle" and "One Country Two Systems" is fundamentally inappropriate for Taiwan.
3. Taiwan should expand its role in the international community, seek international recognition, and pursue the goal of entry into the United Nations and other international organizations.
4. Taiwan should renounce the "One China" position to avoid international confusion and to prevent the position's use by China as a pretext for annexation by force. 5. Taiwan should promptly complete the task of incorporating plebiscite into law in order to realize the people's rights. In time of need, it can be relied on to establish consensus of purpose, and allow the people to express their will. 6. Taiwan's government and opposition forces must establish bi-partisan consensus on foreign policy, integrating limited resources, to face China's aggression and ambition. 7.Taiwan and China should engage in comprehensive dialogue to seek mutual understanding and economic cooperation. Both sides should build a framework for long-term stability and peace.
The resolution introduced the idea that part of the strategy to realize independence would be through a "plebiscite." Generally a "plebiscite" is a request for the citizens to approve a government action or decree while a "referendum" asks for a direct vote on an issue by the population before it is formalized by the government. After the DPP gained power in 2000 they began to talk more in terms of referendum.
The second major document was entitled White Paper on Foreign Policy for the 21st Century issued on November 28, 1999. This is a very sophisticated analysis of the world situation that stresses the changed nature of nation-state sovereignty. It rationalizes why Taiwan should continue, indeed increase, its international activity in the new world of global interdependence. It even suggests that a major goal should be to desensitize China to its efforts to be more active in the international arena.
. Taiwan is a nation with independent sovereignty, named as The Republic of China in accordance with the current Constitution. . Taiwan is not a part of The People's Republic of China. . Taiwan and the People's Republic of China are two nations that do not have mutual ownership, mutual reign, or mutual jurisdiction. . Under the condition of independent sovereignty and national interest, based on similar culture and ancestry, the relationship between Taiwan and People's Republic of China will be more special and closer than with other nations. . The direction of the special relations between the two nations and any decision to change the current status must have the consent of the people of Taiwan.
The 1999 events, culminating with the German interview, became too much for China and for the second time it stopped the cross strait negotiations process.
The next major step in Taiwan’s behavior that appeared to be movement toward independencewas the election of the Democratic Progressive Party’s Chen Shuibian on March 18, 2000. Taiwan independence was a major DPP policy a described above. The DPP has learned how to promote Taiwan independence subtly rather than as a direct issue in the election campaign. In Chen’s inaugural speech he downplayed movement toward independence acknowledging Taiwan’s Chinese heritage and by introducing the "five no’s." He stated:
The people across the Taiwan Strait share the same ancestral, cultural, and historical background. While upholding the principles of democracy and parity, building upon the existing foundations, and constructing conditions for cooperation through goodwill, we believe that the leaders on both sides possess enough wisdom and creativity to jointly deal with the question of a future "one China."
I fully understand that as the popularly elected 10th-term President of the Republic of China, I must abide by the Constitution, maintain the sovereignty, dignity and security of our country, and ensure the well-being of all citizens. Therefore, as long as the CCP regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office, I will not declare independence, I will not change the national title, I will not push forth the inclusion of the so-called "state- to-state" description in the Constitution, and I will not promote a referendum to change the status quo in regards to the question of independence or unification. Furthermore, the abolition of the National Reunification Council or the National Reunification Guidelines will not be an issue.
The caveat phrase “as long as the CCP regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan” has since that time been used by Chen to rationalize the possible abandonment of the five noes pledge. Some have pointed out that the nearly 500 missiles aimed at Taiwan are a clear indication of China’s intent to use military force.
The DPP’s approach has evolved to the point that they believe there is “no need to declare independence because Taiwan is already independent.” They believe that as long as they consider themselves independent and act accordingly they can gradually achieve recognition by others that they are an independent nation.
Taiwan’s position on independence versus unification though is not monolithic. While the DPP has made its position clear, the Kuomintang and People First Party have different positions and those differences emerge in national elections. The KMT and PFP generally seek to find some solution short of total independence, but they both agree that it is still too early to being negotiations on that status.
While all of Taiwan’s parties agree that some form of status quo is desirable, there is no agreement on the definition of the term “status quo.” Nearly everyone agrees that as many as 80% of the Taiwanese would opt for maintaining the status quo with the Mainland. However, at least three definitions of status quo exist. The different parties within Taiwan each have a different idea of what status quo means. One definition goes back to the 1992 consensus which allowed each side to interpret the meaning of “one China” and maintain the political separation as conditions for unification evolve. Another definition has been labeled “dynamic status quo” which meant that there would be no change in the political relationship between the two sides, but that Taiwan would be allowed to evolve its culture (create its identity) and political arrangements which would in the long-run make independence a more likely outcome. This definition also assumes the current de facto status quo would be continued forever as independence. The third definition, offered by James Soong, leader of the PFP, is “parallel movement” to allow future generations to reach a peaceful decision. He stated that Taiwan couldn’t change China’s leaders, but that they could wait for China to change in a more democratic direction. He used the analogy that Taiwan should get engaged to China, but not married. It would be a long engagement; as many as 40 years. In any case he saw major social and political change on both sides of the Strait and he believed Taiwan should wait until the two sides are closer together before any decisions are made.447 Even though Chen Shuibian promised to not formally move toward independence in his inaugural speech, his administration has promoted a number of activities that are perceived by the Chinese as actual movement. For example, on August 3, 2002, Chen made the statement that Taiwan and China are each one country on each side (一邊一國) of the strait.448 He is again talking about the relative positions prior to negotiations, not the ultimate result after unification, but that is little comfort to China’s observers. More important than this statement though is the activity within Taiwan to establish a separate identity. Chen's 2004 inauguration speech also reinforced the notion of seeking a separate Taiwanese international identity.
One of the most astounding changes in Taiwan between 1993 and 2004, is the degree of “Taiwanization.”449 Not only are the signs of Taiwanization visible, so too are the policies supporting them. Some of the obvious signs are:
.Use of a new Romanization system, some sounding out the Taiwanese pronunciation of the Chinese character, to spell names on street signs, buildings and business cards. .Rewrite of history books to emphasize Taiwanese history rather than Chinese history .DPP discussion of reforming the college entrance exam to equalize the opportunity for entering the most prestigious schools. This notion also implied that more emphasis would be placed on understanding the Taiwanese identity in the exam questions if there were an exam at all. .Announcements aboard China Airlines, the official Taiwan airline, in Taiwanese, Hakka and Mandarin. .Removing the word "China" from many formal organizational names. .Teaching classes in some lower level schools in Taiwanese and Hakka languages. .Removing many formerly required courses in universities, like Sun Yat-sen’s “Three People’s Principles.” .Increasing popular dialogue about rewriting the Constitution and changing the name of the country to Taiwan. .Changing the voting system in Taiwan from a “multi-member single vote” system which was leftover from Japan and is also used in Korea. This would presumably make the DPP stronger. .A major change in overseas Chinese policy. Now to be of interest to the government offices around the world the overseas Chinese must have been born in Taiwan or have resided in Taiwan. .The promotion of the 2-2-8 Museum which depicts the KMT government from 1945 to 2000 as a carpetbagger occupation government that killed and severely oppressed Taiwanese citizens. .Remove Chiang Kai-shek as national hero – Change name of CKS Airport and Memorial.
There is no doubt that the Taiwanization process is having significant results and that China is following it very closely. This progression of alienation from China is probably the single- most important irritant to China. It is possible that Chinese leaders, especially in the People’s Liberation Army, will develop a perception that, short of a declaration of independence there is a point of no return so that increasingly severe measures will have to be used to bring Taiwan back into the fold.
In November 2003 the DPP increased talk of a new Constitution. It issued a DPP Policy Statement on a New Constitution. This document explains why the DPP believes a new constitution is required, rather than just amending the old constitution. It also rationalizes the use of a referendum not to found a new independent country, but to evolve or reform the political institutions within Taiwan.
The DPP did not mention independence or the referendum method in its first Political Platform adopted by the First National Congress of the Party on November 10, 1986. It added that language in the revision of 1991. There was little movement on the idea of referendums until 1999 when the DPP published its Resolution on the Future of Taiwan in which it discussed plebiscites. It stated: “Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country. Any change in the independent status quo must be decided by all the residents of Taiwan by means of plebiscite.”
On November 27, 2003, Taiwan’s legislature passed the New Referendum Law after an extended debate and several compromises. This appeared to Chinese leaders to be part of the DPP strategy, as outlined in the Resolution on the Future of Taiwan, to ultimately engage the citizens of Taiwan and have them vote for independence.
Prior to the 2004 presidential election, to establish the process of using referendums, DPP leaders considered three separate referendums:
(1) Parliamentary Reform (reducing size), (2) the 4th nuclear power plant, and (3) Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization (WHO).
They immediately ran into a problem because the way the new referendum law was negotiated out with the KMT would require the signatures of 5% of the voters to get a referendum on the ballot. That would equal 700,000 signatures. They tried to get a petition for the 4th nuclear power plant, but were only able to collect 500,000 signatures. They also believed that if they put it to a vote they would lose.451
President Chen Shuibian and his advisors then seized on the idea of a referendum focused on the 496 short range missiles in China aimed at Taiwan. They would ask the electorate to voice protest to the Chinese government and demand that the missiles be withdrawn and the use of force renounced. The reason for choosing this topic was that they believed it fell within Article 17 of the New Referendum Law which allows the President to initiate a referendum without a petition or a parliamentary approval. The law allows three ways to initiate a referendum:
(1) a petition from the people, (2) the Parliament or Legislative Yuan, and (3) the President if the topic is a security issue that immediately threatens Taiwan's sovereignty.
Since they couldn't gather enough signatures on the petition, and since the KMT controls the Parliament, they decided to use Article 17 which would allow the President to initiate the referendum and get it on the ballot. Many argued that this was a wrong interpretation of the law since the threat was not imminent.452 Publicly the DPP publicly rationalized the referendum effort as a measure to "deepen" or consolidate democracy in Taiwan. They also claimed that it had nothing to do with sovereignty and that it was not designed to provoke China. To China it appeared to be a strategy designed to circumvent the KMT-dominated legislature, a process that could be duplicated later in line with the stated plebiscite strategy.
A secondary rationale not advertised to the public was to internationalize the problem and in this the DPP believed they were very successful. This rationale was also believed by some to have unintended consequences that could backfire in the voting. The actual provocation of China (intended or not) and the announced displeasure of the U.S., Japan and the European Union caused DPP foreign policy handling to be questioned.
A critical aspect concerning the referendum was the specific response by President Bush who stated on December 9, 2004: "that he (Chen) may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose." The referendum did, in fact, provoke China, whether it was designed to provoke or not.
The US President's statement was a major shock to the Taiwanese. President Bush had stated in April 2001 that the US would "do what it takes to protect Taiwan," which may have emboldened the DPP leadership. This was a reversal of that statement, but it was consistent with the US bottom line that the problem had to be settled peacefully without provocation.
The Bush statement was especially powerful in Taiwan because for the first time there was no significant or official counter statement by the US Congress. The statement was followed by similar statements from Japan and the European Union.
All three parties, even members of the DPP, recognized that President Chen had dug himself into a hole and would have a hard time getting out. Polls show that most Taiwanese voters want to keep the status quo with China to allow the economic relationship (even interdependence) to proceed.
Some suggested that the DPP would have to find new words for the referendum that would not alienate China or the US. One suggestion was to negotiate a trade between China removing the missiles and Taiwan agreeing to the Three Links. The approach that was settled on was to ask two questions:
(1) "If China does not remove missiles aimed at Taiwan and does not give up the use of force against Taiwan, do you support the government to increase the purchase of anti- missile equipment to strengthen Taiwan's self-defense capability?" and (2) "Do you agree the government and communist China should open negotiations and promote a peaceful, stable framework for interaction, in order to seek consensus between the two sides and welfare for the people?"453
These questions would address the rationality of the referendum by wording it as a domestic issue, but it does not answer the question of legality according to Article 17 of the new referendum law which requires an imminent threat to the sovereignty of Taiwan. As a result the KMT and PFP position has been to boycott the referendum.
A third inside rationale for the referendum was to raise the emotions of voters which would place pressure on the government to pass more defense appropriations bills to increase the military budget for self defense. In earlier years Taiwan had requested many advanced weapons systems and the US rejected the requests. Now, when Taiwan has fiscal problems the US is offering advanced weapons (PAC-3 Air Defense missiles, Aegis-Class Destroyers, submarines and advanced command and control systems and Taiwan has no money to buy them.
Whatever the exact rationale for the referendum it was clear that it provoked China and caused the U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, to state that he saw no need for the referenda.454
Taiwan’s policy of expanding its presence in international organizations, government or non- governmental, has been a major worry for China. Taiwan’s purpose was primarily to facilitate its successful efforts at international trade. Every membership provided some legitimacy to Taiwan’s legal status in the world. But China viewed this expansion effort as movement toward identifying Taiwan as a separate and distinct state and preparing for independence.
In the 1970s and 1980s China tried to prevent Taiwan from participating in all international organizations, but in time they compromised and established a policy of only objecting to the joining of organizations for which state sovereignty was a criterion for joining. As a result China uses all its considerable leverage to prevent Taiwan from joining organizations like the United Nations, but allows joining that permit “regions” of countries to join, like the World Trade Organization. China still objects to Taiwan’s using the name “Republic of China”, but is satisfied if, in an international organization like the Olympics, it uses a name like Chinese-Taipei. Nonetheless, China is still on guard and carefully monitors any of Taiwan’s participation in international organizations that it believes could advance the notion of two Chinas or one China, one Taiwan.
Taiwan’s movement toward independence seems to China to be one of an irresistible force headed toward an immovable object. Taiwan's current government in power, the Democratic Progressive Party, has held power for over three years and many of its policies seem to be aimed at separating Taiwan permanently from the China Mainland. The main thrust of these policies is to create a new "Taiwanese" identity that can be used to rationalize independence to its own citizens and to the rest of the world. There is a major momentum to this movement which is monitored very carefully by Chinese leaders who believe it is their sacred mission to unify Taiwan and China.
One reason this is a dangerous situation is that some Taiwanese believe there is a window of opportunity in the next six years in which the U.S. would support a clearly Democratic Taiwan if it were attacked by a Communist China, no matter the circumstances. Further, they believe that if they declared independence during that period China would not attack because they fear they would be barred from hosting the scheduled 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the 2010 World Exposition in Shanghai.
China’s second highest priority issue is with the United States. It is the principal obstacle to better U.S. – China relations as was pointed out at a summit meeting between President Jiang Zemin and President William Clinton on October 30, 1997. It was reinforced in an election campaign speech by George W. Bush who cited China as a possible adversary and Taiwan as an area to which the U.S. is committed. This position too has been consistent from the time of the Shanghai Communiqué. From China’s perspective, the issue can be distilled to the simple statement that China opposes “any behavior by the United States or its citizens that encourages Taiwan independence.” The problem is that not all agree on what behaviors encourage Taiwanindependence.
The Chinese Government firmly opposes any activities which aim at the creation of 'one China, one Taiwan,' 'one China, two governments,' 'two Chinas,' and 'independent Taiwan' or advocate that 'the status of Taiwan remains to be determined.'
The second communiqué, which was the formal document for mutual recognition in 1979, merely reiterated the idea of only one China. It did not focus on the problem of supporting Taiwan. Immediately after recognition, however, the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) to make American policy clear:
. . . that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.
Both sides have condemned the other for breaking the agreements of the three communiqués. For example, the American side stated that China’s purchase of Russian SU-27 jet fighters violated paragraph 7 of the third communiqué (17 August 1982) which states:
In order to bring about, over a period of time, a final settlement of the question of United States arms sales to Taiwan, which is an issue rooted in history, the two governments will make every effort to adopt measures and create conditions conducive to the thorough settlement of this issue.
Part of the basis of the third communiqué was what China had stated in paragraph 4, that it would strive to settle the Taiwan issue peacefully. American officials interpreted the purchase of SU- 27s as creating conditions not “conducive to the thorough settlement of the issue” and by challenging Taiwan’s defensive air superiority fundamentally changed the military situation in the Strait making Taiwan more vulnerable to a military attack. The American administration was conceptually required to react based upon the Taiwan Relations Act which states:
1. to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States; 2. to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character
China, on the other hand, also quoted the third communiqué to condemn the U.S. sale of F- 16s to Taiwan. They focused on paragraph 6 which states:
. . . the United States Government states that it does not seek to carry out a long- term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China, and that it intends to reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution. . .
The F-16 sale was particularly confusing to the Chinese. Many claimed it was just a political ploy by President Bush to get elected. Others saw the deal as being the epitome of capitalist hypocrisy. After all, the U.S. had just sold twenty-four Sikorsky S-70 helicopters to the PLA in the 1980s. They suggested the U.S. had no moral or political constraints and was only interested in profit. They asked if diplomatic promises by the U.S. had any meaning.
The F-16 sale highlights the Chinese principle that most informs the complaints by China about arms sales to Taiwan. The key standard was that if the sale appeared to bring the United States and Taiwan closer together politically or provided some legitimacy to the Taiwan authorities, it was to be condemned. For several years the Chinese knew of arms sales to Taiwan, but they didn’t usually complain unless the deal was worth over $50 million because it was at that point at which it had to become a matter of public record. In effect, the Chinese did not care what arms were sold to Taiwan from a military perspective; their primary concern was the political consequences of the sale. In the eyes of the Chinese, the F-16 sale was a clear case of public political support for the Taiwan authorities.
From the time of passing the Taiwan Relations Act in 1979, Congress has continued to present legislation showing a clear and public support for Taiwan; a support that is likely from a Mainland perspective, to encourage movement toward Taiwan independence.
Congress has passed only one law, the Taiwan Relations Act, dealing exclusively with Taiwan, but it passes additional broader appropriations acts (Foreign Relations Authorization Act, National Defense Authorization Act, Foreign Operations Appropriations Acts) that mention Taiwan explicitly and requires executive branch actions. Congress also regularly introduces House or Senate Resolutions that show clear support for Taiwan. The following are some of the Congressional actions that show support.
Figure 5—2 Key Congressional Public Actions Supporting Taiwan -- 1979-2003455
PL 96-8 - Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) (1979)
Provides legal basis for US military support for Taiwan
Highlights US commitment to Taiwan defense. Includes Jinmen, Mazu and Penghu Islands. Recommends transfer of anti-ballistic missile systems toTaiwan.
S Con Resolution 107-105 (1998)
US Resolution Expressing the Continued US Support for Taiwan.
PL 105-261 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY 1999
Require Secretary of Defense to study US missile defense systems that could be transferred to Taiwan, Japan and South Korea
H. Report 105-746 – House Conference Report of PL 105- 262
Required Secretary of Defense to report on security situation in the Taiwan Strait
SR 693 and HR 1838 – Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (2000)
Increased attention to US – Taiwan military relationship (Passed house 341-70. Not enacted into law.)
PL 106-65 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2000
Requires Secretary of Defense to report annually on China’s military power and the security situation in the Taiwan Strait
PL 106-113 – FY 2000
Requires Secretary of Defense to report on DOD planning to implement TRA and knowledge about PRC capability or intentions to affect the military balance in the Taiwan Strait; also requires State Dept. to consult with Congress in on arms sales to Taiwan
PL 106-429 – Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for FY 2001
Requires President to consult with Congress 30 days prior to next round of arms sales talks
PL 107-107 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2002
Authorizes President to transfer by selling four Kidd-class destroyers to Taiwan; also requires added reporting on PLA military acquisitions and the implications for US and others
HR 1646 – input for Foreign Relations
Authorizes four Kidd-class destroyers; requires Taiwan be treated as “equivalent of a manor non-NATO ally under Arms Export Control Act or Foreign Assistance Act
PL 107-115 – Foreign Operations Appropriations Act for FY 2002
Increased DOD – Dept. of State coordination; required reporting to congressional subcommittees on all arms sales discussions on potential sales to Taiwan
PL 107-228 -- Foreign Relations Authorization Act for FY2003
Required that Taiwan be "treated as though it were a major non-NATO ally; required consultations with Congress on security assistance; authorized sale of 4 Kidd Class destroyers; authorized assignment of active duty state and defense department personnel to AIT in Taiwan.
Required Presidential report on the feasibility and advisability of conducting combined operational training and exchanges of senior officers with Taiwan's military.
HR 4546 – input for National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2003
Seeks to “enhance interoperability” with Taiwan’s military.
HR 1454 (March 26, 2003)
To establish policy to provide missile defense systems capable of defending Taiwan against ballistic missiles attacks and to seek burden sharing agreements with them.
Congress went beyond just stating the hope that issues would be settled peacefully. They backed the policy up with clear instructions to the executive branch that America would provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself against military invasion and may even participate in the defense of Taiwan. The TRA stated:
. to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States;
. to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character; and . to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.
Understanding that the Taiwan Strait issue was not a black and white issue, the U.S. Congress and other American pronouncements have never stated that the United States would definitely come to the aid of Taiwan if they are attacked. At times the American policy has been described as “deliberate ambiguity.” There is no doubt though that the U.S. preserved the option to participate, if the conditions were right . . . and China understands that. The closest to clarifying U.S. intent was a President Bush statement on April 25, 2001 when he told ABC news that the U.S. would do "whatever it takes to help Taiwan defend itself."
In July 1982, just prior to the negotiations with China over arms sales to Taiwan that resulted in the third communiqué; the executive branch issued the “six assurances” to Taiwan which clarified the implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act and America’s position even more:456
. The United States would not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan. The United States would not alter the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act. . The United States would not consult with China in advance before making decisions about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. . The United States would not mediate between Taiwan and China. . The United States would not alter its position about the sovereignty of Taiwan which was, that the question was one to be decided peacefully by the Chinese themselves, and would not pressure Taiwan to enter into negotiations with China. . The United States would not formally recognize Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan.
These assurances became part of the Chinese issue with America because they were perceived as behavior that would embolden Taiwan’s leaders and contribute to Taiwan’s independence efforts. The fact that they were originally suggested by Taiwan exacerbated the problem.
The August 1982 third communiqué in fact did not contravene any of the six assurances. This was the agreement in which the U.S. promised to gradually reduce arms sales to China if “the two governments will make every effort to adopt measures and create conditions conducive to the thorough settlement of this issue.”
Since 1982 the U.S. has backed up its words that the issue would have to be settled peacefully with continued arms sales, by sending two aircraft carrier battle groups to the area in the 1995/1996 missile exercise crisis, by exchanging intelligence information about China’s military forces, by passing the U.S.-Taiwan Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Cooperation Act on November 6, 1997 and by issuing reports that paint China as a major threat.457
China’s view is that all of these are inimical to their interests because they provide a security confidence to Taiwan’s leaders, which allows them to delay talks on unification and pursue efforts toward independence. They also believe these behaviors work to integrate Taiwan into an anti- China defense architecture. Finally, they believe these U.S. actions provide political support and legitimacy to Taiwan’s leaders.
The United States has, based on the Taiwan Relations Act, contracted for US $18.558 billion of modern air, land and sea weapons systems, advanced communication and electronic warfare systems, and logistics and spare parts packages to Taiwan during the period from 1990 to 2002 (See Figure 4-5, Chapter 4 for details. These sales are accomplished primarily through the “government-to-government” Foreign Military Sales programs. These contracts indicate to China a clear violation of the communiqués. More important, they are not as concerned about the military capabilities of the sales as the political implications of a close U.S. Taiwan military relationship. They note especially the follow-up logistics and spare parts contracts that tie the Taiwan military to the United States. They also note that in the event of a conflict with China, Taiwan would be required to maintain the support agreements to ensure continued effectiveness of the systems. Finally, as publicized in House Resolution 4546, Congress wants increased interoperability between Taiwan’s equipment and US equipment. That is a clear signal to China of the U.S. intent to integrate Taiwan into US defense plans and it increases the political relationship with the U.S.
China is concerned about the high-level military meetings that determine the scope and type of arms sales. The meetings show a clear close political relationship and support for Taiwan and they believe such a close relationship is more likely to embolden those persons or groups in Taiwan who believe they are safe from a Mainland attack and therefore could declare independence with immunity.
China also notes that in the future the supply of a Theater Missile Defense (TMD system to Taiwan would also be important for the same reasons. Not only would such a sale draw the United States and Taiwan closer together politically, it would embolden Taiwanese seeking independence. They also note that it is only a small step to completely integrating Taiwan into a Pacific air defense and intelligence system designed to defend against China.
Some Chinese observers identify other key issues such as the U.S. desire to keep Taiwan separate and in its sphere of military and political influence. Some even perceive America as actively promoting Taiwan independence. There are a number of conspiracy theories by Chinese who perceive the United States as actively promoting the fall of the Communist government in China and they see America using Taiwan as one instrument in those schemes. But most scholarly and official Chinese assessments understand that while American actions may result in attacks on China’s political system and human rights record, the principal intention is not in those areas. They do, however, believe that many Americans, scholars and officials, are just naïve and do not understand the consequences of their actions; that their actions will have an actual effect of supporting Taiwan independence efforts.
China is also concerned with the U.S. – Japan relationship. At times that relationship is perceived to be too close and targeted on China. When the U.S. and Japan signed the 1960 “Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the USA” and announced the 1996 "Japan – U.S. Joint Declaration on Security,” it tied Japan into the U.S. defense perimeter that seemed to the Chinese to be aimed at China. It allowed American military bases in Japan including an air base and a marine base on Okinawa that could be used in any Taiwan Strait conflict. On the other hand, many Chinese leaders recognize that American military presence in Japan helps to prevent one of China’s other more important fears; the remilitarization of Japan.
There is no doubt that there are differences in judgment about which American behaviors actually contribute to Taiwan’s independence efforts and which don’t. This debate will continue and will cause China to persist in its identification of various American behaviors as anti- Chinese or contributing to Taiwan’s separatist efforts.
negotiations on the future status of Taiwan can begin. None of Taiwan’s official documents and pronouncements even mentions the central issue of autonomy. That is something to be negotiated after Taiwan’s pre-conditions and negotiating procedures are agreed upon. Even the Democratic Progressive Party’s key documents, Resolution on Taiwan’s Future and DPP White Paper on China Policy 21st Century avoid discussion of any aspect of unification.
Taiwan’s responses to China’s overtures have focused exclusively on secondary issues and negotiations form, not substance. All of Taiwan’s documents and pronouncements have avoided the central issue – the future degree of autonomy for Taiwan. Further, all of the responses seem to have been worded so as to delay unification and promote or at least maintain the option of complete independence or continued separation.
The first disconnect for Taiwan begins, as discussed above, with the definition of “one China.” China insists that Taiwan must first agree to the "One China Principle" (一个中国的原 则 before negotiations can continue. China’s definition of “one China” has been summarized in China’s White Paper on the Taiwan Question and Reunification of China published in 1993:
Only One China.
There is only one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and the seat of China's central government is in Beijing. This is a universally recognized fact as well as the premise for a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question. The Chinese Government is firmly against any words or deeds designed to split China's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It opposes "two Chinas", "one China, one Taiwan", "one country, two governments" or any attempt or act that could lead to "independence of Taiwan". The Chinese people on both sides of the Straits all believe that there is only one China and espouse national reunification. Taiwan's status as an inalienable part of China has been determined and cannot be changed. "Self- determination" for Taiwan is out of the question.
Taiwan’s government began to challenge China’s definition of “one China” indirectly as early as the 1991 Guidelines for National Reunification. They began to talk of negotiations or “official communication channels on equal footing.” This later (1994) became Taiwan’s answer to “One Country Two Systems” and was known as “One Country Two Political Entities.”
China’s rhetoric evolved its definition by returning to the 1984 slogan of “One China Two Systems” which merely acknowledged that two economic systems (socialism and capitalism) could co-exist within the single political entity – one China.
A definition of one China came out after negotiators from the two sides met in Hong Kong in 1992 and reached a non-written agreement that “there is only one China with each side of the Strait defining the term as it sees fit.” This became known as the “1992 consensus.” It was not very precise for either side.
Taiwan has actually never defined "one China" very precisely in its official documents like the Guidelines for National Unification The guidelines do, however, state: "the two sides of the Taiwan Straits should foster a consensus of democracy, freedom and equal prosperity, and together build anew a unified China."
Taiwan did offer a definition on August 1, 1992 in a statement that was adopted by the National Unification Council:459 . To Peking, "one China" means the People's Republic of China (PRC), with Taiwan to become a "Special Administration Region" after unification. Taipei, on the other hand, considers "one China" to mean the Republic of China (ROC), founded in 1911 and with de jure sovereignty over all of China. The ROC, however, currently has jurisdiction only over Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu. Taiwan is part of China, and the Chinese mainland is part of China as well.
After President Lee Tenghui made his Cornell speech in 1995 the Chinese side negated the consensus and returned to its insistence that Taiwan agree to the definition of “one China” as a pre-condition to restarting the negotiations.460 In a sense this was a comparison of apples and oranges. China’s slogan described the end result after negotiations: a single state of China that had two economic systems. China was concerned with the substance of the outcome, not so much the form of the negotiations. It was offering a compromise that went beyond the Hong Kong formula for a “high degree of autonomy.”
Taiwan’s response was to promote the idea of two political entities which were focused on the preconditions and form of the negotiating process. It was concerned more with positioning itself well so it could achieve a higher level of autonomy. Taiwan has been more concerned with form and process than substance and nearly all the rhetoric has resulted in delay.
Taiwan’s key documents do not address the central issue of degree of autonomy after unification. Throughout the negotiating process Taiwan has deflected the debate onto other issues and this has resulted in delays. The 1991 Guidelines for National Unification contains four principles, none of which addresses the central issue. All four are general idealistic platitudes that do not contribute directly to resolving the issue. The document also describes the process desired: three phases, with no specified timelines, designed to gradually legitimize and manage increasing contacts between citizens of the two sides. Taiwan’s message is that the process should go slow and test the waters before agreeing to, or even negotiating, a final formula that will solve the central issue.
The 1994 Mainland Affairs Council White Paper on Relations across the Taiwan Straits is similar in approach. Part of it is more of a propaganda document than an attempt to resolve the issue. It outlines the background of the problem from Taiwan’s perspective and while paying lip service to the need to find a formula for unification, offers no suggestions beyond the requirement for China to change economically and politically. The document, which has not been rewritten since 1994, is general, idealistic and outdated and again deflects the debate from the central issue. When it discusses “one China” or the “sovereignty dispute” and suggests “two political entities” it is only for purposes of negotiation, not a view of the end result.
The first sentence in the fourth section of the White Paper is the clearest revelation of the disconnect. . The Republic of China’s understanding of the current temporary division of China between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is completely different from Peking’s idea of “one country, two systems.
In this statement it is clear that Taiwan thinks of “one country, two systems” as a description of the current temporary situation, while the concept for China is a description of the result after unification
Additional clarifying sentences appear in the second paragraph of the fifth section of the White Paper that repeats some of the National Unification Guidelines:
Therefore, we propose that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should put all their efforts into establishing a united China that is democratic, free, and equitably prosperous. Once the ideological, political, economic and social gap between the two sides is bridged as a result of our joint efforts, the unification of China will come naturally.
Taiwan is in effect saying that it is still much too early to unify. The ideological, political, economic and cultural gaps are too great to discuss the specifics of the central issue. Part of the White Paper that appears to be pure anti-Communist rhetoric was really designed to point out some of these gaps. Some of the gaps will take more than twenty years to narrow to an acceptable level and that is part of the reason Taiwan is in no hurry to conclude a unification agreement.
On the other hand, Taiwan acknowledges that real world contacts between the two sides areincreasing and should be encouraged and managed. They suggest the gradual signing of agreements that will protect the citizens of both sides in their contacts and will promote conditions for eventual discussions on a unification formula. Taiwan notes that there is an historical enmity and mutual suspicions that must be overcome before proceeding. Taiwan's leaders also want to see a democratic political system or a more effective rule of law established so they can be sure whatever agreement is reached about the future will endure and not be changed by whim of current Communist Party leaders.
At various points Taiwan has become obsessed with its status in the negotiations. It prefers to negotiate government to government at an equal level. China’s approach is more center to province or superior to subordinate. Taiwan believes this places them at a disadvantage before the negotiations even begin.
In the long run it may not matter whether the parties to the negotiations are considered state to state, government to government, party to party or non-government organization to non- government organization. It does not even matter if the parties enter the negotiations as equals or as superior and subordinate. There is no doubt that when an ultimate agreement is reached, Taiwan will be at a lower level than the national government. It may be higher than a province or municipality, but it cannot be at an equal level with the national government. The focus must stay on the degree of autonomy of Taiwan not on the labels during negotiations.
Two additional areas that Taiwan has used to deflect the discussion from the central issue of degree of autonomy are China’s hostile (from Taiwan’s perspective) policies of (1) not renouncing the use of force to resolve the problem and in (2) preventing Taiwan from achieving more autonomy on the international stage. These two topics take up much space in nearly all debates and discussions about the negotiating process to the point that the central issue is not mentioned.
Taiwan sees the buildup of forces and the deployment of short range ballistic missiles in Fujian province as an indicator of hostility that would not bode well in future negotiations. It appears to Taiwan to be a clear indicator of China’s proclivity to control Taiwan by any means and that detracts directly from promises of a “high degree of autonomy.” While China maintains that the use of force is reserved for outside powers, like the United States, or subversive elements in Taiwan, Taiwan sees over 1000 missiles that could only be aimed at Taiwan. Taiwan’s leaders state that they cannot negotiate with confidence when a gun is pointed at their head. From their perspective the missile deployment is a clear impediment to future negotiations.
Just before Chen was elected, in November 1999, the DPP, had published a White Paper on China Policy for the 21st Century. While this paper stressed normalization of relations with China, it also made clear the belief that Taiwan was a separate sovereign country and not part of China. In January 2000, after Chen Shuibian was elected, the DPP published policy guidelines that avoided any mention of Taiwan as a sovereign state.
Chen’s inauguration speech on May 20, 2000 was a major reversal in open rhetoric about independence. In that speech he announced what became known as the “five no’s”. He explicitly stated that he would not seek independence, not change the national title, not promote the idea of “state to state” relations, not hold a referendum to promote independence based on self- determination, and not abolish the National Reunification Council.
National Day speech on October 10, 2000 said very little about cross strait relations, but did appeal for a return to the 1992 consensus, which Taiwan has interpreted as meaning that both sides had agreed to define “one China” in their own way.
One of President Chen Shuibian’s first acts as president, in May, 2000, was to recruit the head of Academica Sinica, Dr. Lee Yuantseh, a Nobel prize winner, to Chair the President's Advisory Group on Cross-Strait Affairs (跨黨派兩岸小組). The group was to be a non-partisan group whose mission was to find a consensus among Taiwan’s citizens on how to deal with China. The group produced what it called "three acknowledgements and four suggestions" (三個 認 知、四個建議).
The three acknowledgments are that:
.The current state of cross-strait affairs is the result of historical events.
.The PRC and the ROC neither mutually represent one another nor belong to each other and that any change to the current cross-strait situation should be approved by the people of Taiwan through democratic measures.
.The government on both sides of the Strait must work to guarantee the security and benefits of all the people.
The four suggestions are for Taiwan to:
To improve cross-strait relations, to deal with cross-strait disputes and to deal with Beijing's "one China" principle according to the ROC Constitution .To create a new mechanism or adjust current measures to continually coordinate the different opinions on national development or cross-strait relations which would include all political parties as well as the public. .To appeal to mainland China to respect both the dignity and the "space" of Taiwan and to end military threats and work together with Taiwan to sign a peace agreement. In this way, confidence can be built and a win-win situation will be established. .To declare to the world that the government and people of Taiwan insist on peace, democracy and prosperity as cornerstones to cooperating with the international community. With this in mind, Taiwan will construct new cross-strait relations with sincerity and patience.
Again Taiwan’s effort, as reflected in the four suggestions, had to do with positioning for negotiations and did not mention the core issue of how much autonomy Taiwan should have after unification.
Chen’s major speeches in 2002 were consistent in describing the next steps in cross strait cooperation:
. Return to the spirit of 1992 (dismiss “one China” condition). Return to Cross Strait dialogue.
. Promote “three direct links.”
. Normalize economic, trade and cultural contacts before political integration. . Renounce the use of military force. . Exchange high level visits.
These steps are consistent with the 1991 National Unification Guidelines. President Chen believes China’s insistence on pre-conditions to negotiations (one China), use of military intimidation and refusal to treat Taiwan as an equal in negotiations are the major obstacles to progress. He wants a slow controlled process that builds economic and cultural relationships first as a foundation for political integration. He wants to see China become a nation of law (democratic) so the ultimate results of any negotiations can be trusted. As a result he is not ready to discuss the core issue of degree of autonomy yet. When he calls for renewed talks, he wants to discuss the ways to improve the cross strait environment for contact between the citizens of each side, not necessarily to facilitate later negotiations about political integration or degree of Taiwan autonomy.
China’s leaders, on the other hand, want to move immediately to discussions about political integration and Taiwan’s degree of autonomy. They see Hong Kong as a success story and believe they are being magnanimous in their previous offers of a high degree of autonomy. They don’t understand how Taiwan can reject the notion of one China unless they do not intend to unify at all.
That notion is reinforced by President Chen’s remarks in an interview on January 22, 2003 when he was interviewed by Harvey Sicherman of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.461 In the interview he stated:
“The Republic of China (ROC) is a sovereign state. This is the clear and obvious status of our country. The ROC effectively exercised jurisdiction over the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu—a fact no one can deny.”
He also said:
If I were to deny that the ROC is a sovereign state, I would no longer be qualified to serve as president. Neither the ROC nor the PRC is subordinate to the other. I want to make it clear that Taiwan is not a part of, a local government of, or a province of any country. This is a fact of history. We want to emphasize to the international community that, as a sovereign state, the ROC cannot be downgraded, treated as a local government, or marginalized by anyone.
While China is deeply suspicious that all of Taiwan’s efforts are designed to delay to preserve the option of an eventual state of independence, Taiwan is deeply suspicious that China will resort to totalitarian rule once an agreement has been made. The see some indications of this in the protests against new sedition laws in Hong Kong in 2003. Further, President Chen also believes the current atmosphere is designed by China to gain an unwarranted political advantage. He also believes the current atmosphere for negotiations is being manipulated by China; that not only are the military threats intended to pressure Taiwan, but current economic trade and investment activities are actually tactics used by China to cause Taiwanese businessmen to influence Taiwan’s government policy in China’s favor. These concerns are often brought up by Taiwan’s leaders, but they are secondary issues and not related to the central issue of autonomy.
American policy toward the cross strait issue is dynamic but consistent.462 It is determined by balancing the three communiqués (first, second, third) with the Taiwan Relations Act. The central principles are to promote economic relationships on both sides that contribute to American interests, to encourage the two sides to resolve the issue by themselves, and most important – for the issue to be resolved peacefully.
The highest priority concern for the United States is simple and consistent. The vast majority of American leaders and people do not care whether the Taiwan Strait issue is settled with unification or independence, but it must be settled peacefully. That has been the message from the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué to the most recent pronouncements.
The Shanghai Communiqué stated, albeit not very forcefully:
The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves.
Every major pronouncement by the executive branch and the legislative branch since 1972 has reiterated that concern. American leaders understand that the Taiwan Strait problem must be settled by the Chinese themselves. American insistence on a peaceful settlement has caused American leaders to respond directly both diplomatically and militarily to actions taken by both China and Taiwan.
American reaction to the 1995/1996 missile exercises was to dispatch two aircraft carrier battle groups to the area. It was a clear and direct signal to the Chinese that the use of force in the future was not acceptable and would be met with a strong American military response. U.S. leaders have also warned China that it’s positioning of nearly 500 ballistic missiles opposite
Taiwan was a clear threat and in the terms of the third communiqué was “not conducive to a thorough settlement of the issue.”463 The U.S. has also warned Taiwan not to go too far in promoting independence since it will almost certainly provoke China to use force.
While many observers have offered alternative issues for the United States, such as promoting Democracy, maintaining peace for economic purposes, protecting Taiwan’s human rights, etc., there is no doubt that for the United States the central and highest priority issue is how to insure that the Taiwan Strait issue be settled peacefully.
The conflict between China and Taiwan is not unique. Historically there are hundreds of efforts to separate a sub national area from a nation state; some successful, some not. Perhaps the principles and definitions have evolved. Today there are parallel situations the analyses of which provide useful discussions of the principles involved. Serious in-depth works exist, for example, for the problem of Quebec in Canada and Scotland in the United Kingdom.464 These works providerationales as well as definitions of processes (devolution versus separation) and possible results (commonwealth, dominion, or home rule status). Each provides a different level of autonomy. These works also identify central issues in any discussions designed to identify the ideal degree of autonomy after separation. Finally, they describe a range of possibilities for negotiation strategies, such as the role of negotiations, unilateral declarations of independence or referendums. Some have even begun to assess the results of previous agreements to separate. In the case of Ireland, total independence was achieved, but later, Ireland had to join a larger unit, the European Economic Community to survive and prosper.465 These works begin to offer sound data on the consequences of the decline of the principle of national sovereignty as global interdependence increases.
This chapter concludes that the core issues for China, Taiwan and the United States are different. China focuses on the ultimate results of negotiations – the degree of autonomy Taiwan will have after unification. Taiwan is more concerned with the pace of negotiations and establishing conditions that must be realized before further negotiations, can take place. Taiwan’s issue focus is on establishing a favorable environment for its negotiators and for its citizens during the period leading up to a change in political status. It is just not ready to begin the process of negotiating the terms of a settlement. China, on the other hand, is interested in getting right into the terms of settlement. This disconnect results in the two sides not being able to communicate on the issues.
Over the years, the focus changed from one China as a description of the final political status of China and Taiwan after the negotiation process to a description of the status of China and Taiwan during the negotiation process. The definition of one China became increasingly important to the point that actions perceived by China to be contrary to the one China principle have interrupted the negotiation process.
This concept of state-to-state parity in the negotiations process became a major sub-issue in cross strait relations. Taiwan has repeatedly insisted that it is a de facto sovereign country and should be treated as such in the negotiations process. China has responded by insisting that Taiwan must first acknowledge the one China principle. Neither side has explicitly explained what they mean in terms of time. When they use the term “one China” it is not clear whether they are talking about one China during the negotiations process or one China as a description of the final outcome. It makes a difference.
China also has issues with the United States. Its leaders believe American behaviors, particularly the U.S. Congress and Defense Department, have been critical obstacles to further movement in the negotiation process. They believe that American actions not only delay the process but actually encourage Taiwan’s leaders to pursue the road to independence. They identify this American role as one that interferes in China’s internal affairs and they are extremely sensitive about issues of sovereignty. United States leaders, on the other hand, perceive their role as protecting the human rights of an Asian state that has just gone through the process of democratization. But the core issue for the United States is only that the conflict be settled peacefully.
The failure of China and Taiwan to focus on the same core issues has meant that the negotiations themselves are not treated as critical by either side. The two sides enter talks with different agendas. As a result, it has been relatively easy for Taiwan to deflect the main substance of talks toward building a foundation for later serious substantive negotiations. It has also been relatively easy fo rChina to interrupt the talks and refuse to return to the bargaining table because of issues that are peripheral to the core issue of degree of autonomy. While China sets preconditions for the substance of talks, Taiwan has established preconditions for movement to the core issue – the degree of autonomy for Taiwan.
435 For China’s official position, see “The One-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue,” the official White Paper on Taiwan. Xinhua (New China News Agency), February 21, 2000. Available at: http://taiwandocuments.org/white.htm (accessed on 17 August 2015).
459 For an academic perspective of one China as presented by a Taiwan scholar see: Tzong-ho Bau, "The Challenges of Negotiations across the Taiwan Strait," Department of Political Science, National Taiwan University, Prepared for presentation at the International Symposium on Political Negotiation Between Taiwan and Mainland China, March 21-22, 1998, Taipei.
460 A more detailed description of the formal negotiations will be found in Chapter 6.
462 See Ambassador Winston Lord’s statements to Congress, including “Taiwan Policy Review," Available at: http://www.ait.org.tw/en/19940927-taiwan-policy-review-by-winston-lord.html (accessed 28 August 2015); "U.S. Policy Toward Taiwan." - Testimony September 27, 1994 Winston Lord Assistant Secretary, Department of State,Senate Foreign Relations, East Asian and Pacific Affairs. (Policy Review I, Policy Review II, Policy Review III)
463 In December 2002, China’s President Jiang Zemin offered to withdraw the 400 missiles perhaps in exchange for a U.S. commitment to stop arms sales to Taiwan. See Macabe Keliher, “Missile Diplomacy,” Asia Times, Dec. 11, 2002. Available at: http://https://www.asiatimes.com/atimes/china/DL12Ad01.html(accessed 28 August 2015).
464 A detailed and up to date bibliography for both can be found in Murkens, op. cit., pp. 306-314.
465 Also see: Lawrence James, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire (New York: St. Martins Press, 1994) and Nicholas Mansergh (ed.), Nationalism and Independence: Selected Irish Papers (Cork: Cork University Press, 1997).