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Establishing the Cross-Strait Community View of History (IV): Why the Community View of History Should Be Established
By Yazhong Zhang (Ya-Chung Chang) Translator Sheng-Wei Wang
February 1, 2012

Editor’s Note: The article first appeared on www.ChinaReviewNews.com (01/16/2011).


(1) Overt Taiwan Independence: Radical, but Weak Separatism


The right-most column of Table 2 is the so-called Taiwan independence fundamentalism, which is the basic theory for those who sought independence prior to the democratization of Taiwan. As the name suggests, "overt Taiwan independence" clearly sets its ultimate goal of establishing a Taiwan country. They hope to achieve the target of rectifying the name and authoring a new constitution through referendum.


The current threshold for constitutional amendment is very high; any such action will be difficult. Instead, it is easier to formulate a new constitution and to destroy the existing constitution. However, any person who has political common sense will know that this is an unrealistic idea that is bound to bring disaster to both sides. The number of people who advocate this idea is small. But because of their firm stand and strong mobilization capacity, in the process of the DPP primary campaign, they can often exert influence as a key minority, and this would make them think that they have their market. Therefore, the DPP was kidnapped by them and found it difficult to make a large-scale adjustment on cross-strait policy.


The "overt Taiwan independence” is basically a plain talk that cannot get anywhere. This is because they cannot pay the price, namely blood that any person pursuing independence will almost certainly have to pay. Simply put, their passion for the pursuit of Taiwan independence has not reached the stage of "shedding their blood and laying down their lives." The Taiwanese society will not allow them to pursue their ideal by way of terrorism, nor will the international community endorse the possible consequences of a radical Taiwan independence.


(2) Latent Taiwan Independence:  Backdoor Separatism


A group of the then DPP elite had long understood that they must modify their theory. After Lee Teng-hui gained power and Taiwan had full democracy, he clearly understood that it was time to establish "latent Taiwan independence." The so-called "latent Taiwan independence" means a clear understanding that an overt, radical promotion of Taiwan independence is not feasible. So, there is a temporary cover up to accumulate the energy that the separatists should have, and wait for a golden opportunity to come.


The 1999 "Resolution on Taiwan's Future" of the DPP is the product of the "latent Taiwan independence." They know that they cannot turn Taiwan into an independent ROT, but they are reluctant to tell people the reality. So they put it another way, and that is to tentatively accept the ROC as the shell, but still regard the ROT as the ultimate goal. They also clearly express that the sovereignty only covers Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.


The biggest modification of "latent Taiwan independence” is using the referendum no longer as a tool to change the status quo but as a defensive tool to maintain it. The thinking is that in order to change the current cross-strait situation of separation, the decision must be made by a referendum of the 23 million people in Taiwan. They deliberately distort the true meaning of the "status quo.” With respect to the constitution, when they advocate the shrinkage of the ROC sovereignty, the status quo at the constitutional level has been changed. The so-called "using defensive referendum to change the status quo" is in fact only words that are specious, self-fulfilling, self-hypnotizing and avoiding to face the facts.


With respect to strategy, the "latent Taiwan independence" has even developed phrases like a "moderate form of Taiwan independence" or a "flexible form of Taiwan independence." These Taiwan independence advocates are pragmatic and have expectations. They pragmatically realize that the international situation and the rise of the mainland of China will not allow Taiwan independence to be realized. But they look forward even more to an opportunity that falls from the sky, such as the collapse of the society in the mainland of China or a structural change of the East Asia situation. So they can have a chance to achieve their goals.


The "latent Taiwan independence" and the "unification theory" in the mainland of China have diametrically opposite views of the impact of the “time" factor on the cross-strait relations. Both believe that time is on their side. The mainland people who support the unification theory think that as long as the mainland of China can build up a prosperous economy and make the Taiwan economy totally dependent on it, then unification must be easily realized. If Taiwan does not behave well, as long as the cross-strait trade pocket is tightened, Taiwan for sure will completely give in. The people who support the "latent Taiwan independence" think that with the use of education and culture, the people of Taiwan will all agree that both sides have an alien-state relationship no matter whether it is in terms of sovereignty, history or system. Indeed, the successive elections in Taiwan also have given them the opportunities to create a nation-state identity of Taiwan. Through electoral manipulations or politically-painted media of the pan-Green Camp, they make China look like “others” who suppress Taiwan and use this to strengthen the Taiwanese consciousness. They are used to call the two sides China and Taiwan. They believe that as time drags on and the structure of the relationship with others becomes more consolidated, fewer people inside Taiwan would dare to challenge this structure, since the cost for breaking it will be higher.


(3) Overt Taiwan Being Already Independent: Explicit Separatism


If the "latent Taiwan independence" steps backward further, or it can be said that in order to clear the fundamental doubt and concern of the people in Taiwan on the DPP, the DPP may move in the direction of "overt Taiwan being already independent." The biggest difference between the "overt Taiwan being already independent" and the "latent Taiwan being already independent" is how they view the ROC Constitution. The former clearly expresses that it does not accept the current One-China Constitution and regards it as the remnant of the old times. They can accept the ROC as the country name, but in the political education the image associated with the ROC before 1949 should be removed. They are prepared to use the Second Republic of China for self-positioning. They claim that the ROC is already a sovereign independent state with territories of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu; there is no need to declare further independence or rectify the country name. Any change of the status quo must be decided jointly by the 23 million people of Taiwan.


The difference between the "overt Taiwan being already independent" and the "latent Taiwan independence" is that the former also begins to defend the ROC; in facing the mainland of China, hostility is converted into peaceful attitude. But the cross-strait position of having a "relationship with others" has not had the slightest change. The supporters also advocate the development of economic and trade relations with the mainland to establish a relationship that is mutually beneficial rather than discriminative, peaceful rather than clashing, and reciprocal rather than subordinate. They can accept that the two sides have a historical, cultural and blood relationship, but wish more that the two sides can create a bright future of the so-called symbiotic relations with common prosperity, mutual trust and benefit; these relations are based on geopolitics, regional stability and economic interests from the geographical and economic perspectives.


Based on "geography and economic interests" rather than national development as the core of the relationship with others, unification can be an option but not an inevitable option. The supporters emphasize that at this stage the two sides are non-subordinate and mutually independent individuals. They can advocate "no unification, no independence, no use of force": "no unification" means the adherence to the basic position of the "overt Taiwan being already independent" and also the commitment to the United States and Japan; "no independence" means "not to declare independence," because they have long ago recognized the independent sovereignty of Taiwan; "no use of force" means a morality propaganda directed at Beijing to highlight the brutal use of force of Beijing. All these are possible DPP theories in facing the future 2012 election.


(4) Latent Taiwan Being Already Independent: Separatism that Splits the Party Characteristics


Relative to the "overt Taiwan being already independent," the "latent Taiwan being already independent" is an advocacy that is full of logical contradiction in its theory. On the one hand, it does not want to deny the One-China Constitution in which the ROC sovereignty covers the whole of China; on the other hand, it advocates that the ROC is a sovereign independent country and the 23 million people have the right to decide their own future. This is a statement that splits the national character, since the One-China Constitution does not contain the "Taiwan independence" option. But the liberation of "open choice" implies that "Taiwan independence" can be one of the options for Taiwan’s future.


Although, in the constitution, the "latent Taiwan being already independent" supports the One-China Constitution, nonetheless in the context of historical and cultural education this view takes the ROC after 1949 out of the Chinese history and places it in the Taiwan history. For example, the Taiwan History of the first semester portion of the high school curriculum that is under review contains the following units in sequence: the early period of Taiwan, the period ruled by the Qing Dynasty, the period under the Japanese occupation and the period of the ROC, namely, the Contemporary Taiwan. In the second semester of the first year and the first half of the first semester of the second year of high school, the Chinese History is arranged in sequence as follows: the pre-Qin era, the Qin-Han to Sui-Tang Empires, the Song, the Yuan, the Ming periods, the golden age of the Qing period, the changing situation of the late Qing Dynasty, the ROC establishment and development, the Contemporary China and Taiwan cross-strait relations. Among them, the concrete topics of Contemporary China are: the establishment and development of the party-nation system of Mao Zedong, the political and economic development under the Deng Xiaoping arrangement, the foreign policy of Communist China, and the evolution of the cross-strait relations.


From the viewpoint of the outsiders, there is no doubt that the Ma Ying-jeou government does not support separatism. But the high school history textbooks planned during his term of office surprisingly appear to show a view of history of separatism. The new history textbooks still maintain the teaching sequence of "Taiwan history, Chinese history, world history," which has not changed the concentric-circle structure initiated in the Lee Teng-hui era and left over from the Chen Shui-bian era. Although the history textbooks of the Ma administration do not say whether the Chinese history is a foreign history, there is definite proof that the Chinese history and the Taiwan history are arranged side by side on two different historical axes. The ROC before 1949 is on the axis of the Chinese history, but the ROC after 1949 is on the axis of the Taiwan history rather than being taught as a part of the Chinese history.


Perhaps Beijing will feel very happy because, in textbooks the ROC Government in Taipei has already given away the orthodox status of Chinese history to Beijing. In the portion about Chinese history, the history since 1949 is continued by the PRC, and recognizes it in the textbooks as Contemporary China. This reflects the current state of mind of the Taiwan mainstream: "We do not want to fight orthodoxy with you; you are you, I am I; you represent China, I am just Taiwan. It is all right to do business, but do not say more on other matters!"


This kind of textbooks has defined the two sides of the strait as having an alien relationship. Then the big question is: "Is Chinese history our history in the end?” This question may not be answered in the textbooks, but it is answered in the arrangement of the textbooks: the Chinese history from 1949 is not the history of the ROC history, the “one country on each side" view of history has been formed. However, because the KMT still has not changed the political platform of the One-China Constitution, therefore, we have to regard it as the "latent Taiwan being already independent." Another more popular term is Taiwan being "content to hold a small part of the territory"; it has the hope of inheriting its legally constituted authority of the past, but is no longer willing to compete with rivals for orthodoxy. It is satisfied with the comfort of the status quo. To put it simply: it is muddling along.


From the “one-China” stance,” the mentality of "overt Taiwan being already independent", "latent Taiwan independence" and "overt Taiwan independence" is “evasion”: The "latent Taiwan being already independent" (content to hold a small part of the territory) is “avoidance," that is, when encountering the issue of positioning itself, it ducks and hides as best as it can. Relative to the explicit and firm positions of the first three on sovereignty and right to rule, those who support the "latent Taiwan being already independent" cannot make their statements clear. Therefore, in the discourse, the "latent Taiwan being already independent" is not the matching opponent of the "overt Taiwan being already independent." As long as the latter does one thing, that is, to declare the acceptance of the ROC and issue a challenge to the KMT to demand that it states clearly "whether in the end the ROC sovereignty covers the whole of China or is only limited to Taiwan, Penghu, Kimen and Matsu," then the supporters of "overt Taiwan being already independent" can wait to see the KMT confused in making explanations and stumbling.


(5) Disaster and Illusion of the Separation View of History: Cat and Mouse, and the Theory of Catching the Cat


The four discussions above, overt or latent, Taiwan (to become) independent or Taiwan already being independent, all belong to the realm of separatism. Remember that the China Review News President Guo Weifeng proposed a "cat and mouse" theory during the April 2010 Habitat (Motosu) meeting in Japan. He derived that if the cross-strait identity shows a cat-mouse rather than a cat-cat relationship, then the two sides will inevitably have contradiction and not be able to live together in peace. In other words, if the Taiwan side sticks to its Chinese identity, even if the powers of both sides are asymmetric, Beijing still has to respect Taipei. As long as both sides have identical subjectivity, they should not be in conflict with each other. Moreover, President Guo had said that, according to seniority, Taipei is a hundred-year-old cat while Beijing is just a sixty-year-old kitten; although the external power of the old cat is somewhat weaker (i.e., has less physical strength), when the two are together, the kitten still has to give more respect and benefit to the old cat. From the simple fable of "cat and mouse theory," we can clearly understand that Taiwan being already independent and Taiwan to be independent will eventually become a disaster. From the "cat and mouse theory,” more can be learned.  Namely, when the "latent Taiwan being already independent" mergers with the "overt Taiwan being already independent," it may seem superficially that the trend toward separatism is formed. However, the stronger this merging force, the more disastrous the cross-strait conflict will become.


I am also willing to provide a "theory of catching the cat" to describe the illusiveness of the “Taiwan being already independent” and the “Taiwan independence” theories in the real world: "Latent Taiwan being already independent " is to catch a black cat inside a dark room; "overt Taiwan being already independent" is to catch a black cat in a dark room where there is no black cat; "latent Taiwan independence" is to catch a black cat in a dark room where there is no black cat, then yelling loudly that “The cat is caught”; and “overt Taiwan independence” is to walk out of the dark room with hands empty, but still proclaim "The black cat is in here! "


4. Why the Cross-Strait Community View of History and Theory Are the Best Choice


After discussing the related theories on separatism, we return to the discussions of the relations among the view of history, the theory and the policy.


The previously mentioned visits in October 2010 to Shanghai, Xiamen, Beijing and other places were to seek advice. Here, in particular, I would like to thank the Director-General of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council Mr. Huang Wentao for his additional insights proposed with respect to Beijing’s current view of history during the meeting in Xiamen University. He thought that in addition to my proposed "unification view of history" and "civil war view of history," the six points proposed by Mr. Hu Jintao at the end of 2008 can be seen as a new view of history and theory.  Director-General Huang proposed a "national development view of history." This interpretation, indeed, has supplemented the inadequacy of my analysis on the Beijing theory and its view of history. The following table lists the comparative cross-strait views of history, theories and policies of the current individual political parties of the two sides and the Chinese Integration Association. Due to space limitation, no further explanation will be given for each case.


Table 3 Cross-Strait Views of History, Theories and Policies

(1) Why Can the Unification View of History Not Overcome the Separation View of History?  The Human Factors


Perhaps many people will ask, given that the separation view of history and its theory are undesirable in the existing political reality, why their degree of acceptance in Taiwan are gradually improving. Even the KMT has contributed to its development. In an article entitled "Community: Chinese Integration and the Pillar of the Third Constitution" (China Review News, October 2009 issue), I have already stated in detail the political and social factors why the cross-strait identity continues to fracture. Here I discuss one point and that is: why is the "unification theory" always unable to persuade the "separation theory"? We must look at this matter calmly and objectively.


The United Nations had only 51 countries at the time of its establishment, now it has more than 190 Member States. During this period, the countries that have completed reunification consist of only North-South Vietnam, North-South Yemen and East-West Germany. The simple conclusion is: countries seeking independence are far more numerous than those wanting reunification. A Chinese saying goes like this: “Better be the head of an ass than the tail of a horse." “Be the master of one's own affairs" always has more appeal than "help each other through a crisis" or "We are all in one family." From a personal point of view, most children, after they possess the ability to be adults, do not want to live with their parents under one roof, but want to be independent, have families and a career of their own. This is why the "reunification" or "merger" theory has never been able to compete with the "separation" theory.


Besides, just like not wanting to face the problem or seeking "ease and comfort," these are also part of human nature. "Content to hold a small part of the territory" is consistent with the habits of a number of weak regimes. Isn’t the satisfaction of the Southern Song’s and Eastern Jin's holding a small part of the territory a good example? They already established their power bases in the southern fertile ground and mansions. Why should they return to the north to fight? People are familiar with the story of Zu Di. He attempted the northern expedition, but the court gave him neither soldiers nor food, and only let him fend for himself. This kind of policy of "content to hold a small part of the territory," of course, determined the “small court” pattern of the Eastern Jin Dynasty.


Back to our personal cases, I encountered many friends who had arrived in Fujian in early days from Shandong or Shanxi Province. For them, the south is great, and, although they recognize that the north as their homeland, their families and careers are in the south. Gradually, they do not want to go back, and also cannot go back anymore. The homeland has become a foreign land. It is like this for individuals, and it is especially true for political regimes. "Content to hold a small part of the territory" becomes an entirely natural matter. In the past, Taiwan still had the pride and enthusiasm to compete with the mainland, but now, after seeing the ascending mainland of China, Taiwan gradually loses confidence. Content to hold a small part of the territory is the inevitable psychological reaction of "fear." Is Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT not walking on this path?


However, the regimes that were “content to hold a small part of the territory" always found good reasons to convince themselves. They would not say that they had no ability and courage to contest for supremacy. Instead, they would say that the northern regime did not have a high quality of civilization, hence, they had no intention to be its friend. Was the Southern Song Dynasty not an example? As mentioned earlier, did Lung Ying-tai‘s rhetoric "please use civilization to convince me" not derive from the same mentality as Taiwan’s democracy "myth" of the DPP?


Because there are too many human factors in favor of supporting independence or holding a small piece of the territory, the reasons for reunification have never been able to convince the separatists. So unification in history was hardly ever accomplished by means of reasoning, but by means of blood.


(2) Community View of History Can Correct the Separation View of History: Respect and Tolerance Are the Right Ways


If the conclusion reached in the previous section is really the case for the realistic development, then can the two sides indeed only have the fate of resorting to violence? No! The community view of history is basically a national co-development view of history. The advocacy of "one China, three constitutions" ensures that the two sides share common sovereignty, which is neither a “unitary" nor a "separation" binary option. The cross-strait integration is the path to enable the two sides to go from "co-sovereignty, separate right to rule” to “joint right to rule” through the establishment of a community. With such a community mechanism, "power asymmetry" will not cause the result of Taiwan being annexed or digested. On the contrary, the establishment of a community will give the two sides a "shared governance” on matters that concern the entire Chinese people.


If the "unification theory” cannot speak louder than the "separation theory," then the "community theory" absolutely can. After all, our societies are not like mutually independent atoms, but are interdependent organisms. The two sides are a community of destiny in perspectives like history, geography and future. Facing this fact, the truth is clear enough to persistently pursue separation or to seek a win-win community.


"Unification" and "separation" are the two ends of a spectrum, but "community" is closer to "unity;” their views of history and theories are highly connected. This is why in our articles we have repeatedly called for defining the present "period of peaceful development" of the two sides as the "integration period" or "community period" and we regard it as a short-range goal of our effort.


After writing to this point, due to space, I should stop here. I look forward to the next article to continue the discussion of the cross-strait view of history.


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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/taiwan/201009/ad395393-b10f-4aff-a64f-f2d44271eed2.shtml
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