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Establishing the Cross-Strait Community View of History (III): 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. Understanding the Problem Is the Key for Solving the Problem


In early October 2010, I finished writing "Establishing the Cross-Strait Community View of History (I): What Are the Existing Problems?" (China Review News, November 2011 Issue, Total No. 155th Issue; internet publication on www.ChinaReviewNews.com, 12/05/2010). In order to understand the viewpoints of the mainland friends, I took the opportunity of participating in a seminar organized at the end of October jointly by the 21st Century Foundation and the Shanghai Institute for International Studies to make other visits to the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies and the Center for East Asia Studies of Shanghai University. Afterwards, I attended a seminar about "High-Level Dialogue on Cross-Strait Political Status" held on October 27 in the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University. Then I made a trip to Beijing to visit the Institute of Taiwan Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the Association for the Promotion of Chinese Culture.


During the many visits and seminars, I tried to make a detailed analysis of all the existing views of history and the community view of history. The mainland scholars and experts all presented their valuable opinions on the existing cross-strait views of history. They included the Dean and Associate Dean of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies Yu Xintian and Ni Yongjie, the Associate Dean of the Center for East Asia Studies of Shanghai University Hu Lingwei, the Associate Dean and Head of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies Yang Jian and Yan Anlin, the Dean of the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University Liu Guoshen, the Dean and Associate Dean of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing Yu Keli, as well as Zhu Weidong, the Vice President and Secretary General of the Chinese Association for Cultural Development Xin Qi and Zheng Jian.


I remember that during separate discussions with the President and the Deputy Editor of the China Review News Guo Weifeng and Zhou Jian Min, I said that the purpose of proposing theory and discussion is to solve problems rather than invent new theories. Problem-solving is the goal while theoretical innovation is just the tool. Persevering to explore and constantly revise the cross-strait core issues on the China Review News is not an attempt to defend my theory and discussion, but is a hope to advance with the times to find ways and means to solve the problem. "One China, three constitutions, cross-strait integration” is continuously deepened and advanced under this idea.


The biggest difficulty in discussing an issue is whether the languages of the speakers have the same meaning. If the meanings are not the same, the same words will lead to different interpretations. This can easily cause misunderstandings during the discussion and analysis.


In this article, I wish to put together the results gained from this trip to Shanghai, Beijing and Xiamen to reinforce the article that was published earlier. I am using a few charts to make the presentation to offer the readers an easier understanding of the ideas of the cross-strait community view of history. After all, a deeper understanding of the problem makes it easier to find a solution to the problem. From the problem, we can discover that the cross-strait community view of history should be the best choice for the two sides at present.


2. Cross-Strait Political Status with Respect to Nationality, State, Sovereignty, Right to Rule and Power


First, I list in Table 1 the cross-strait political status with respect to nationality, state, sovereignty, right to rule and power.


Table 1 Cross-Strait Political Status with respect to Nationality, State, Sovereignty, Right to Rule and Power (Abbreviations: ROC for the Republic of China; PRC for the People’s Republic of China; ROT for the Republic of Taiwan)





(1) Sovereignty: Unitary, Separate or Overlapping?


Sovereignty, right to rule and power are three different concepts. Perhaps their respective differences can easily be extracted from the meaning of the words. But in making practical statements on the issues, the three are often lumped together; in particular, sovereignty and right to rule can easily become indistinguishable. The reason lies in that sovereignty is invisible; it can only be manifested through power. The power for government to exercise sovereignty may be called the right to rule. Both sovereignty and constitution have the meaning of making a declaration; while sovereignty is used externally to declare independence and autonomy, constitution is the binding norm used internally to constrain and protect the behavior of the people.


The term "unitary sovereignty” refers to both sides advocating them being the sole owner of the sovereignty of China. For example, the constitution and the "one country, two systems" policy of Beijing view the sovereignty of China as belonging to the PRC, whereas the constitution and the National Unification Guidelines of Taipei regard the sovereignty of China belonging to the ROC and covering the whole of China.


Advocacies like "one country, two governments" or ”one country, two regions" are in essence based on a "unitary sovereignty.” The "two governments" or "two regions" being referred to is a description of the right to rule. "Two governments" refers to the two governments that exercise the separate administrative power, and "two regions" are the two regions where the exercise of administrative power takes place.


The "special state-to-state," "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan" statements proposed by some of the political parties or personalities in Taiwan are all based on two sovereign states that are not subordinate to each other. They belong to “two states” having a "relationship with others." But among them, there are still differences. "Two Chinas" recognizes that both sides are Chinese people, however the discussions of "special state-to-state" and "one China, one Taiwan" may include two different nationalities on the two sides; one is the Chinese people and the other is the Taiwanese people. The former has the Chinese history that started from sage-kings of Yao (2356-2255 BC), Shun, Yu, Tang, King Wen of Zhou, King Wu of Zhou, and Duke of Zhou... until today; it is jointly constructed by the five major ethnic groups of the Hans, the Manchurians, the Mongols, the Huis, and the Tibetans that make up the nationality known as Chinese. The latter has the Taiwanese history as the common experience shared by four ethnic groups of the indigenous people, the Taiwanese (emigrated from Fujian Province of China), the Hakkas and the mainlanders. Namely, the two nationalities have ties of blood, but their politics are different. "Two Chinas" is the theory of "one nation, two states," but "one China, one Taiwan" may be the theory of "two nations, two states".


One way of constructing national identity is to use the degree of social development or ideology as a tool. For example, East Germany after 1974 regarded West Germany as composed of the nation of German capitalism, whereas East Germany itself was composed of the nation of German socialism. Since national identity essentially includes recognition of the system, therefore, some people in Taiwan regard the differences of the cross-strait political systems as the main rhetoric of national identity. They believe that the development of democracy and freedom in Taiwan has surpassed that in the mainland of China and they cannot produce the same identity as the mainland of China. Therefore, the different developments of the cross-strait political systems have become the basis for the "two states" theory. The renowned culture expert Long Yingtai (Lung Ying-tai) has said to the mainlanders: "Please use your civilization to convince me." This was using civilization as the basis for treating the mainlanders as “others.” It was the outcome of this kind of view of history and theory.


The Nationalist Government (KMT Government) has always regarded the ROC as a sovereign country. During the period when the National Unification Guidelines were implemented, the KMT regarded the country’s sovereignty covering the whole China, namely, it included the mainland of China. However, approximately after Lee Teng-hui consolidated his power, the presentation turned the ROC into a sovereign independent country with the added word "independent." In coordination with this change, Lee Teng-hui created a “New Taiwanese” identity that included "the mainlanders, the islanders, the Hakkas and the aborigines" to distinguish it from the "Chinese identity" in the mainland so that the cross-strait sovereignty and national identity (together, that is, the nation-state identity) become two political bodies that have a "relationship with others".


The "special state-to-state relationship” under the "relationship with others" may be two states with the same Chinese nationality, namely the "one nation, two states," but it may also be two states with two different nationalities, namely "two nations, two states." Lee Teng-hui and his successor used "one nation, two states" under the special state-to-state relationship for making statements in foreign politics. But with respect to education in history and culture, it is the construction of "two nations, two states" and there is nothing special about it. The structure of this relationship with others lasted for more than a decade through the rule of Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian. Until the Ma Ying-jeou government took office in 2008, Ma did not try to break this structure, instead, he followed the step of advocating sovereignty independence.


In terms of the international law, generally speaking, the phrase "sovereign state" already contains the complete concept of an international juristic person. There is no need to use the redundant word "independent." Using a phrase like sovereign independent state has a political purpose. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) applied this kind of advocacy which is consistent with its political stance. But when the KMT also follows this track, it highlights the contradiction of the KMT’s theory. In accordance with the constitution, the sovereignty of the ROC covers the whole China. Claiming it as a sovereign independent state encounters two problems: First, what is the PRC in Beijing? Is it an invisible country? Second, whom is the ROC independent from? Of course it is not independent from the United States or Japan or other countries. The language of "sovereign independent" clearly implies the meaning of "one country on each side" for the two sides.


(2) Right to Rule: Hierarchical, Separate, or Independent


Concerning the right to rule, Beijing's constitution and the "one country, two systems” policy consider Taiwan as a special administrative region with a high degree of autonomy.  Therefore, the right to rule is defined by a “hierarchical approach." In the National Unification Guidelines, the "administrative power" relationship is described as "not denying the other as a political entity" and the cross-strait right to rule is operated on an equal basis of mutual respect.


"One country, two governments" does not clearly specify who the central government is and who is not. Since any sovereign state can have only one central government, if the "one country, two governments" is based on a "unitary sovereignty," then the "two governments" are bound to give the administrative power to only one central government. Under the premise of a "unitary sovereignty," the theory of "one country, two governments" is in fact not much different from "one country, two systems." However, if we emphasize that the "two governments” are both central governments, then the premise of a "unitary sovereignty” will have to face challenges.


As the concepts of "two Chinas", "special state-to-state" relationship and "one China, one Taiwan" and so on are equivalent to the "sovereignty separation" of sovereign independent states, so the right to rule is naturally separated.


(3) Sovereignty, Right to Rule and Power: Hierarchical, or Equal but Asymmetric?


In the area of power, since internationally it is based on using the strength of the tangible material as an indicator, the mainland of China has surpassed Taiwan in this regard. Therefore, internationally the two sides are in a state of power asymmetry. Both governments and the public have little objection to this fact.


The advocacy of "one China, three constitutions" differs slightly from other claims in its claim of sovereignty and right to rule. First of all, "one China, three constitutions" advocates an “overlapping” sovereignty, instead of a ”unitary” sovereignty or “separated” sovereignties. Since both sides claim their current constitutions cover the whole of China, therefore, the idea that can best meet the status quo is the overlapping sovereignty regulated by the cross-strait constitutions. By recognizing this "overlapping sovereignty," neither side has the right to split the whole of China, but has the obligation to pursue the sovereignty from "overlapping" to becoming "unitary.”


The statement derived from "overlapping sovereignty" is that China's sovereignty belongs to all Chinese people on both sides, which is non-exclusive by either party. This is also the reason for advocating the addition of a fourth phrase “China's sovereignty is shared and exercised by the people on both sides” at the end of the “three new catchphrases".


Concerning the right to rule, we advocate the separation of the administrative power. We differ from Beijing in this regard.  Beijing thinks that the right to rule is hierarchical for the two sides, namely, the Beijing Government is the central government while the Taipei Government is the local government. This is also different from Taipei’s view. Taipei thinks that the cross-strait right to rule should be reciprocal; the reason is that the ROC or Taiwan is a sovereign independent state; if it is sovereign and independent, then it has the right to rule independently and the two sides should have a reciprocal relationship. Our view is that the legal sources of the administrative power of the two sides are their own constitutions, so their powers are legally equal. But in the implementation of their powers, the two sides do show asymmetry. "Asymmetric equality" is the status quo basis and power reflection of the right to rule of the two sides.


On this point, in the seminar about "High-Level Dialogue on Cross-Strait Political Status" at Xiamen University, the innovative “Theory of the Chinese Nation Sphere” put forward by Director Liu Guoshen also proposed the view of "hierarchical right to rule." Professor Huang Jiashu at People's University (Renmin University) proposed the famous estimate of 1.0 vs. 0.6 for the two sides. I have always respected these two scholars. But I think that the administrative power stems from sovereignty, while the "hierarchical right to rule" of Director Liu implies “hierarchical sovereignty” of the two sides. And Professor Huang’s "1.0 vs. 0.6" points to the power spectrum of effectively exercising the right to rule. It is more accurate and realistic to say that the two sides have "equal but asymmetric" rights to rule. The sources of the cross-strait administrative powers are equal and are granted by their own constitutions; but the power generated by the right to rule is asymmetric. This is similar to society, where the power of everyone has an equal source that entitles him/her to constitutional rights and obligations, but exercising this power shows asymmetry.


If the viewpoint of "asymmetric equality" can be implemented in the future cross-strait political interactions or community, then it can deal with problems that cannot be properly handled by the "hierarchical" or the "1 vs. 0.6" advocacy. The latter seems to imply hierarchical differences in future cross-strait interactions no matter whether in quality (essence) or quantity (scope, size).  However, "asymmetric equality" means equality in essence in certain areas, but asymmetric with respect to the scope and size of the power. Concerning this point, the design of the Senate and the House (equal but asymmetric) in the federal system, and the design of the Council of European Communities and the European Parliament (equal but asymmetric), both have very high reference values. They are also the practitioners of the “asymmetric equality” right to rule.


3.  Relations of the Separation View of History with Sovereignty, Right to Rule and Power


After analyzing the current cross-strait situation from the three perspectives of sovereignty, right to rule, and power, we shall focus on how different are the views of history presented in Taiwan from these perspectives and how to clarify the different terminologies. Currently the different views of history presented in Taiwan can be categorized as "latent Taiwan being already independent view of history" (commonly known as ‘content to hold a small part of the territory view of history’), "overt Taiwan being already independent view of history," "latent Taiwan independence view of history" and "overt Taiwan independence view of history." The tabulation is as follows:


Table 2 Types and Differences of the Separation Views 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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