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Establishing the Cross-Strait Community View of History (II): What Are the Existing Problems?
By Yazhong Zhang Translator Sheng-Wei Wang
June 1, 2011


Editor’s Note: The article first appeared on www.ChinaReviewNews.com (12/05/2010).



Development of Taiwan Independence View of History: Hope to Find Arguments from Sovereignty and Self-Determination

The proponents of Taiwan independence first used the article  "Undetermined Status of Taiwan" as a  portion of their view of history.   The "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" (abbreviated   as the “417 Resolution”) passed by the first impromptu assembly of the second session of the DPP on April 17, 1988, used it as a reason. The article said that “since both the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty between Japan and part of the Allied Powers,  and the 1952 Treaty  of  Peace between  the Republic of China and Japan did not decide on Taiwan's sovereignty over any country, any future changes to Taiwan's international status must resort to the resolution of the  self-determination  of all the residents of Taiwan.”


In fact, the United States, the initiator of the “Undetermined Status of Taiwan,” has accepted that Taiwan is part of China in the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué, which is equivalent to the US giving up the idea of undetermined status of Taiwan. Although some Taiwan independence theorists have not given up this argument, beginning from the 1990s, especially in the post democratization period of Taiwan, the Taiwan independence theorists have turned to the two perspectives of "sovereign independence" and "future of self-determination" to find a de jure basis for Taiwan independence. The Taiwan independence theorists have expanded the interpretation of "Taiwan independence view of history" as the "separation view of history." Based on strategic needs, they can tolerate the temporary "Taiwan being already independent view of history."


In 1992, the Legislative Yuan (Yuan literally means the "law-establishing court") completed a comprehensive re-election. In March 1996, Taiwan held its first presidential election. The DPP no longer has reason to say that the KMT is a foreign power. The nature of the "Taiwan independent view of history” has shaken off the alien political power to move towards independence, and turn into independence. It is only waiting for rectifying the "name" of the country.


After the March 1996 presidential election, on May 10, Vice Director of the DPP Propaganda Department Zhou Yicheng (Chou I-cheng, 周奕成), Deputy Executive Director of the DPP Election Strategy Committee Chen Junlin (Chen Chun-lin, 陳俊麟), Secretary-General of the Goa-Seng-Lang Association For Taiwan Independence Tian Xing (Tien Hsien, 田欣), and DPP members of the National Assembly Zheng Liwen (Chen Li-wen, 鄭麗文, later became the Chief Officer, Department of Communication, the KMT; Associate CEO, Policy Committee, the KMT; she is currently the incumbent KMT non-constituency legislator), Zhong Jiabin (Chung Chia-ping, 鍾佳濱), Duan Yikang (Tuan I-kang, 段宜康), etc., jointly launched a cosigning of more than 100 signatures. They announced the New Generation Program of the Taiwan Independence Movement as the new political theory to consolidate Taiwan's status quo. The Article V of the Program states that "Taiwan independence does not necessarily require the use of ‘Taiwan’ as the country. It is not the aim of the Taiwan independence movement to change the country’s name, national flag or national anthem. For Taiwan to become an independent country, the best is to be true to its name and use ‘Taiwan’ as the name of the country; but when the international situation disallows that name, it should accept to temporarily use other names to maintain the results of the de facto independence." The so-called “other names” in the mouth of the DPP’s new generation is the “Republic of China.” This so-called "New Generation Program of the Taiwan Independence Movement" statement is equivalent to no longer adhering to the "Taiwan independence view of history.” It is satisfied with the "separation view of history."


From the "Taiwan Independence View of History" to the "Separation View of History": Fruits of the DPP and Lee Teng-hui

The pragmatic DPP knew that establishing a country  through
Taiwan independence is a  political impossibility. But in order to justify itself they could only adopt a "backdoor listing" approach. In order to win the presidential election in 2000, the DPP may be said to have formally given up the appeal  of  "resident self-determination," "pursuit for independence”  and switched to  think  that after the presidential election, Taiwan was already an independent sovereign  state;  in  the future any "change of the independence status quo" must go through Taiwan’s "resident self-determination."


On May 9, 1999, the DPP passed “The Resolution on Taiwan's Future," in which it has: "Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country. In accordance with international laws, Taiwan's jurisdiction covers Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, its affiliated islands and territorial waters. Taiwan, although named the Republic of China under its current constitution, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China. Any change in the independent status quo must be decided by all residents of Taiwan by means of plebiscite." Up to this point, the DPP has used the "resident self-determination" as a safeguard rather than as a tool to strive for Taiwan's sovereign independence.


On July 9, 1999, President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) of the KMT called the cross-strait as having "special state-to-state relations." His so-called "special" definition resulted only from the special similarities in history, culture and consanguinity of the two sides, but their sovereignty ownerships had already belonged to two independent countries. Thus far, the "separation view of history" seemed to have become mutual consensus of the ruling and the opposition parties.


In May 2000 Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) took office as President of the ROC. During the entire eight years, the DPP did not touch the sovereignty issue of the constitution, but embarked on a road that cut off as much as possible the mainland in politics, economy, trade and culture. In other words, under the disallowed condition in reality, the DPP did not make a “separation” step at the constitution level, but continually pushed the separation view of history and the separation theory. The “one country on each side” in 2002 was their key statement.


The DPP has sharply cut its relation with the mainland on the education of history, namely, it uses the "Taiwan independence view of history" as the basis for educational policies and through educational policies strengthens the independent view of history. In addition to glamorizing Japan's colonial experience in Taiwan, the fifty-year Japanese stay in Taiwan is regarded as “Japanese governance” instead of "Japanese occupation." The DPP has accepted the so-called Concentric Circle Theory of Du Zhengsheng (Tu Cheng-sheng, 杜正勝). The emergence of the concept of the so-called Concentric Circle Theory is an attempt to turn to the geographical separation as a tool for cutting off history. Under the guidance of this kind of goal, Taiwan's 9-year integrated (elementary and junior) course outlines and high school course outlines appear to have a special mode of first teaching the history of Taiwan and then the history of China, and finally the history of the world.


Of course, this model is extremely deceiving. The history of Taiwan includes two parts, one being its prehistory, and the other beginning with the narration of the governance of colonial powers in Taiwan from the sixteenth century. It attempts to portray Taiwan as having a colonial-torn history. And in a certain sense, in fact, it also portrays "China" as a "colonial country” that has ravaged Taiwan.


I would like to quote the speech given by You Xikun (Yu Shyi-kun, 游錫堃) in the evening of January 31, 2007, when he attended the year-end banquet of the Taiwan North Society. This is for the purpose of understanding the importance of this view of history that attempts to cut off relations between Taiwan and China. The Central News Agency reported like this: "He (You Xikun) supports the policy decision of Du Zhengsheng in revising the high school history textbooks. The DPP upholds the value of safeguarding Taiwan's sovereignty. Irrespective of pan-blue camp’s (The pan-blue camp consists of the KMT, the People’s First Party, and the New Party, etc.) total suppression or asking Du Zhengsheng to step down, the DPP strongly confirms Du Zhengsheng’s implementation of the values of Taiwan subjectivity with concrete actions. He said that during the period when he was the Premier of the Executive Yuan (the executive branch of the government of the ROC), while he appointed Du Zhengsheng as the Minister of Education, he already ‘handed over’ Du Zhengsheng the task of properly handling the issue of the Taiwan subjectivity in the history and geography textbooks of Taiwan. He also reminded Du Zhengsheng that the process would definitely lead to the oppositions by the pan-blue camp and that Du’s reputation would decline; but Du should hold on and not give up. In his view, in order to establish the value of Taiwan subjectivity, the Greater China complex and the ‘one China’ bondage must be abandoned; the so-called ‘One-China Constitution’ is not a value of Taiwan subjectivity. He said that the controversies arising from revising the high-school history textbooks have shown that the two values of identifying with Taiwan subjectivity and identifying with China subjectivity cannot be reconciled to coexist."


Taiwan Being Already Independent View of History: Compromise and Concession of the KMT


"The Republic of China, the Republic of China being moved to Taiwan, the Republic of China in Taiwan, the Republic of China being Taiwan" are KMT's self-identities since the party changed its view of history after 1949.


Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in March 2008. Theoretically speaking, he should change the “Taiwan independence view of history” or “separation view of history” that were established by Lee Teng-hui and the DPP for more than ten years. But regrettably, Ma Ying-jeou has appointed a pro-green Minister of Education, a pro-green Minister of Mainland Affairs Council, and also accepted the theory of the "separation view of history."


First of all, after Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, he did not change the course outlines of the Chinese language for the nine-year integrated education (that is, from elementary to junior high school), which were revised during the Chen Shui-bian era. On the contrary, on the fourth day after taking office, his appointed Minister of Education Zheng Ruicheng (Cheng Jei-cheng, 鄭瑞城) already announced the outlines. According to these new course outlines, the future textbooks of primary schools will no longer be called the "Guo Yu" (國語, Mandarin as the national language) but "Hua Yu" (華語, Chinese language); the textbooks of junior high schools will no longer be referred to as "Guo Wen" (國文, Chinese national writing) but "Hua Wen” (華文, Chinese writing). For these, the Chinese Integration Association especially convened a press conference and used the verse of Chu Ci (楚辞, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chu_Ci) to make a declaration: "Virtuous people are abandoned but mediocre people of no virtue are holding high positions, just like the brass bells were destroyed but earthenware pots were everywhere; an evil spirit has invaded the justice system and heresies have replaced correct principles, just like the dissipated and obscene music of the Zheng Nation disrupted the solemn court music and the mottled purple color covered up the bright red color." Although the Office of the Presidential Palace responded immediately on the same day and said they would fix the problem, apart from the “name” issue, there is the problem of substantially reducing the country’s culture to the Taiwanese culture and de-Sinicization materials still exist in many of the social sciences. For these reasons, the Chinese Integration Association made another declaration and hoped that Ma Ying-jeou could direct the Ministry of Education, in addition to immediately amend the name issue, also reorganize the Course Outline Committee and make comparisons with the 1998 model of the high school course outlines; he should carefully choose the committee members and conduct a more thorough review on the contents of the course outlines. We will actively pay attention to how things develop.


Another more serious problem is the course outlines of the high school history. The newly revised course outlines of the Ma administration still continue the concentric circle view of history provided by Du Zhengsheng, which separate the Taiwan history from the Chinese history and teache first the history of Taiwan and then the history of China; the Republic of China after 1949 is placed in the history of Taiwan rather than in the history of China. In the historical context, the history of Taiwan has implicitly become a "national history." In the blueprint of the history education of the Ma administration it does not say that the Republic of China is not China, but clearly says that the history of the Republic of China after 1949 does not belong to the history of China. This kind of educational process of building up the national consciousness and the view of history is equivalent to thoroughly de-Sinicizing the present Republic of China. For this reason, the Chinese Integration Association again issued a solemn public statement expecting the Ma administration to wake up to the danger at the last moment by "not becoming the first ones in the world to destroy their own history." The Association has actively discouraged the implementation of this new curriculum.


Readers may not know that after Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008, Du Zhengsheng remains as a member of the Course Outline Committee of history. The current government has so far only made minor changes to the 1998 course outlines. Namely they are the course outlines forcefully led and passed by Du Zhengsheng with You Xikun’s instruction at the time. It directly abandoned the "constitutional one China," and used de-Sinification to shape the identity of the two sides as a "relationship with others" and "one country on each side.”


The Ma Ying-jeou government might have thought that as long as there is ROC recognition, it is equivalent to having safely kept the view of history. They do not understand that when the ROC changes its nature, the view of history of the KMT and the Ma Ying-jeou government has in fact degenerated from the “separate administrative power view of history" to the "separation view of history." What differs from the “Taiwan independence view of history” is only that the KMT and the Ma Ying-jeou government have chosen the “Taiwan being already independent view of history” that does not give up the name of the Republic of China.


Taiwan Being Already Independent View of History: the KMT Calls It the Transformation View of History


Here is another case of the "Taiwan being already independent view of history" in social education. The year 2011 marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the Xinhai Revolution. Taiwan will have a series of celebration activities. Administrative Member Zheng Zhilang (Tseng Chih-lang, 曾志朗) of the Executive Yuan made a report using the title of Deputy Secretary-General of the Secretariat of the Celebration Activities Preparatory Committee. He pointed out that the Centennial celebrations will have the "history interpreted by the whole people" and the establishment of a “transformation view of history” based on the "localization of the Republic of China;” “with the view of localization and pluralization to highlight the Taiwan spirit and characteristics, it will thereby establish the subjectivity of the historical development of the Republic of China; the goal is to hope that the ‘transformation view of history’ of the ‘localization of the Republic of China’ will become the central idea of the Republic of China in Taiwan." The essence of this official name “transformation view of history,” is actually a kind of the "Taiwan being already independent view of history.” If you view it from the entire historical experience of China, this is the "content to hold a small part of the territory view of history."


Let us discuss further the remarks made by the political figures in Taiwan. Recently Chairwoman Lai Xingyuan (Lai Shin-yuan, 賴幸媛) of the Mainland Affairs Council has made several public statements in the United States and Europe saying that " Taiwan's future should be decided by its 23 million people," "the ROC is a sovereign independent country," and the Ma administration has a basic policy of "no unification, no independence.” All these political speeches can be summarized as a process to socialize the "Taiwan being already independent view of history.” All the talks on Taiwan's future basically are the continuation of the early DPP’s theory of "resident self-determination." The “sovereign independent theory" is the deliberate misguidance of the "separate administrative power view of history" and it further avoids the constitutional fact that the two sides at present have "overlapping sovereignty."


Again, take the new batch of "ten dollar coins" that the Ma government publicly released from August this year as an example. The photo of Jiang Weishui has already replaced that of Chiang Kai-shek. In the communication website of the Office of the Presidential Palace, Jiang Weishui is addressed as “Taiwan’s Sun Yat-sen.” Some private citizens already regard this as a God creation movement for “Taiwan's national father.”


The various events mentioned above are all signs that the KMT is gradually sliding towards the “Taiwan being already independent view of history.” Year 2011 is the Centennial of the Xinhai Revolution and the KMT will hold a series of large-scale activities. According to the published contents at present, they are all to strengthen the localization of the Republic of China, that is, the statement of "the Republic of China being Taiwan."


From the grand survey of the cross-strait public opinions published recently by the United Daily News, we can see that after the Ma administration took office for more than two years, the public opinion on Taiwan’s future gradually developed towards “maintaining the status quo forever;" that percentage for the first time exceeded 50%. In addition, 16% of the population advocated independence as soon as possible and 15% advocated maintaining the status quo and later becoming independent; 5% advocated a radical unification and 9% advocated a gradual unification; a 51% majority of the people hoped to maintain the status quo forever and only 4% had no opinion. The comparison of the above data with the findings of the United Daily News in July 2000, namely when Chen Shui-bian came to power for the first time showed significant changes in public attitudes towards unification and independence. The number of people who advocated radical unification or gradual unification reduced together by 15% in ten years, replaced by those who advocated maintaining the status quo forever---an increase of 19%; the number of people who advocated radical independence or gradual independence also increased by more than 5%. From the viewpoint of political socialization, these data are certainly not formed naturally, but are the results produced by long-term speeches of the political figures and their policies.


From the above data we can see that the "separation view of history" promoted by the DPP has met with some success, whereas the KMT would not think about whether this trend should be reversed. On the contrary, based on this survey they would further strengthen their status quo statements and lead the view of history fully towards the direction of the “Taiwan being already independent view of history” of "the Republic of China being Taiwan.” From the above discussions on the national Chinese language textbooks, history textbooks, politicians’ talks and the contents of Centennial celebration activities of the Xinhai Revolution, such a direction is clearly visible.


The "Taiwan being already independent view of history" and the "Taiwan independence view of history" do not have much difference in essence. Their basic cores are all based on "separation" from the mainland of China. We can expect that for the Centennial of the Xinhai Revolution, if inside Taiwan there is no strong and powerful statement of the correct history, then consequently the "Taiwan being already independent view of history" and the "Taiwan independent view of history" will become the completely dominant views of history that lead the people of Taiwan. This must be an unfortunate disaster for the future development of the cross-strait relations. This is also one of the reasons that the Chinese Integration Association hopes to summon both sides to put the record straight on the "community view of history" in the Centennial of the Xinhai Revolution.


Logics for Forming and Producing the View of History: Causal Link between the View of History, the Theory and the Policy


"View of history" is the foundation of "theory” and "theory” is the basis of "policy;" the implementation of "policy" will in turn strengthen the cognition of “view of history.” There is a causal link between the three. Different "views of history" reflect viewpoints towards our own history and future; and with the viewpoint, a corresponding "theory" or “statement” will naturally form. All the policies or actions including the constitutional position, diplomacy, economy, defense and education are the products of theories.


The DPP uses the "Taiwan independence view of history" as the foundation, and further uses "one country on each side," "Taiwan is a sovereign independent country" and "self-determined future" as the main arguments. They regard establishing Taiwan as an independent state to be the highest value and objective to strive for. They think that the separation from the mainland of China is an existing reality. In order to achieve the change, all people must pass the self-determination referendum. In the area of military and security policies, the DPP depends vigorously on the United States and Japan; in economy, they hope to reduce the economic dependence on the mainland of China; in history and culture, they attempt to cut off relations with China.


The present KMT statement of the "Taiwan being already independent view of history” is the status quo of "no unification, no independence." It stresses that "the ROC is a sovereign independent country" and "Taiwan's future should be decided jointly by the 23 million people." Then the status quo can be changed. The KMT principle is "pro-American, friendly with Japan and peaceful with China." It continues to have a vigorous dependence on the U.S. in military security and is willing to engage in active economic exchanges with the mainland of China. But its educational policy of history is vague or does not seek to strengthen relations with China.


Beijing currently has two kinds of views of history: the first is the "civil war view of history" and the second is the "unification view of history." The theory shaped by the "civil war view of history" can be simply stated as "not recognizing the legitimacy of the Republic of China" and is often expressed as "the People's Republic of China being the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China.” Under this theory, it is bound to boycott the reality of the existence of the ROC Government in the international diplomacy and suppress Taiwan’s military security. Beijing’s theory of the "unification view of history" on the other hand is "peaceful reunification and one country, two systems." Policy-wise, it can naturally include economic policies that "gain hearts of the people of Taiwan," and cultural and social policies that strengthen the cross-strait exchanges. But Taiwan after reunification is at most a special administrative region of high degree of autonomy.


Beijing's "civil war view of history" and "unification view of history" and Taipei's "separation views of history" (including the "Taiwan independence view of history" and the "Taiwan being already independent view of history") are just two rival views of history. They naturally form two opposing theories and have produced conflicting policies.


The Taipei side must consider whether the "Taiwan independence view of history" or the "Taiwan being already independent view of history" can really benefit the people of Taiwan. In the long run, Taiwan may weaken the opportunity of participating in the mainland affairs or even bring disaster to Taiwan itself. The Beijing side has to think how to establish a view of history between ending the "civil war view of history" and completing the "unification view of history." This view of history should facilitate the cross-strait peaceful development and share common prosperity and benefit, so that the two sides can be in a period of peaceful development. Can Beijing have such a policy that will enable both sides to develop a philosophy based on this kind of view of history and promote the overall interests of the people on both sides?


Work Together: Establish the Cross-Strait Community View of History

The Chinese Integration Association through the monthly magazine China Review News (the on line version is www.ChinaReviewNews.com) has fully released the theory of “one China, same interpretation” based on the contents of "one China three constitutions, cross-strait integration.” The Association proposes "cultural integration, monetary integration, economic integration, national identity, security identity, international participation, framework agreement" as the seven visions (because we are not the government, these are not "policies," but only visions or ideals) and suggests both sides to take them as references for policies. (The Integration Strategy by Zhang Yazhong (Chang Ya-chung) has been published; readers can download the full text free of charge from the web). Year 2011 is the Centennial of the Xinhai Revolution. For such a memorable day, the Chinese Integration Association will produce a documentary The Rise of China that has seven episodes to wake up the “community view of history” that has been forgotten by people on both sides of the strait.


The content of this documentary, which depicts the community view of history is based on the core concept of "the two sides belonging to the whole of China" and the platform of challenges and progress faced by China in its century-long modernization. Through the documentary, we hope to convey that the two sides have always been a community that shares the same destiny in the process of pursuing modernization. Only due to a later start on the race of modernization than Japan, China was forced to cede Taiwan to Japan; this is just one example. We also wish to convey the message that when the whole of China as a community is torn, the people in it have no way to live and work in peace and contentment. The whole country must be chaotic both domestically and externally, and cannot escape the intervention of Western imperialism. We also want to tell both sides of the strait that a prosperous and healthy mainland would more easily receive recognition of the people in Taiwan; and a Taiwan that is anti-independence and cares for the development of the mainland can henceforth win respect of the mainland. We want to explore that after 1949 the two sides have been used as testing grounds for modernization, so what are the experiences to be learned from each other? Of course, we also hope to convey the message that the success of modernization of the whole China must involve the mutual learning and participation of the two sides. It would be impossible for Taiwan and the mainland to achieve the goal of modernization alone by ignoring the other party. Only when the two sides help each other closely on the path of modernization with the recognition that they are a community sharing the same destiny, can a peace and development truly be created for the two sides of the strait.


Due to the limitation of space, let me make further in-depth discussions on the cross-strait "community view of history" in the next article.

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Dr. Yazhong Zhang (Ya-chung Chang) is the Chairman of the Chinese Integration Association and Professor in Political Science at the National Taiwan University. He has published more than ten books including Theory of the Cross-Strait Sovereignty, Theory of the Cross-Strait Integration, European Integration: Interactions of Intergovernmental Doctrine and Ultra-Nationalism, U.S.-China Policy: Containment, Engagement, and Strategic Partners. They are all important writings in the relevant academic fields. Open the Political Market (Linking Publishing Company, Taipei, Taiwan) is the book on his new political thinking. Recent interview on Phoenix TV: http://v.ifeng.com/opinion/
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