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Liberty Times: Time to formulate 'Taiwan consensus'

2011/08/25 11:02:17

When dealing with the rest of the world, Taiwan has no way of treating China as if it did not exist. But within Taiwan, different opinions have emerged as to what attitude it should adopt to deal with China.

The country has been divided into two major camps -- the blues and the greens -- which are keeping Taiwan in a state of de facto separation despite the absence of a civil war.

Recent discussions about a "Taiwan consensus" has provided people with a constructive idea.

The term was first mentioned by Su Tseng-chang in February during the opposition Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) presidential primary. He proposed following the spirit of the party's "Resolution on Taiwan's Future," standing firm on upholding Taiwan's sovereignty, and sticking to the principle that "survival is paramount, democracy is cornerstone."

This proposal has been adopted by the party's presidential nominee Tsai Ing-wen, who has openly declared the "1992 consensus" non-existent. Tsai said if elected, she will work to formulate a "Taiwan consensus" through democratic procedures. Her own interpretation of such a consensus is "standing firm on Taiwan's sovereign independence and maintaining Taiwan's status quo."

The issue is also being discussed in former DPP Chairman Shih Ming-te's new book, "Common Sense." Shih suggests a transition from the controversial "1992 consensus" to the truly existent "Taiwan consensus." According Shih, such a consensus in fact has already been formed, as demonstrated by the common ground between the three major presidential candidates in 2000 -- Chen Shui-bian, Lien Chan and James Soong -- on the issue of national identity.

It will mark a very valuable step forward if at this point, people in the country all agree that Taiwan should first formulate a basic consensus among its population of 23 million before it can obtain a legitimate means to interact with China.

No one, no matter how powerful he or she is, has the right to deal under the table with China on Taiwan's future. This is probably the greatest "Taiwan consensus" in the mind of the Taiwanese people. (Editorial abstract -- Aug. 25, 2011)

(By Y.F. Low)