Even if Peace isn’t Peace, “Taiwan must try to Conclude a Peace Accord with the PRC”

Now that President Ma Ying-jeou has been re-elected, Taiwan must try to conclude a peace accord with the People’s Republic of China, writes Joe Hung, in an article for the (pan-blue) China Post. Hung blames former president Chen Shui-bian (DPP) for China’s “anti-secession law”, and basically credits Lien Chan, the then-chairman of the Kuomintang, with having made a journey of peace to declare together with Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General Hu Jintao in Beijing to work toward a peace accord across the Taiwan Strait.

A peace accord would have nothing to do with Chinese unification, Hung adds. Rather, the pact is one to end formally the long Chinese civil war, which started or resumed right after World War II. Lee Teng-hui’s administration had put an end to Chiang Kai-shek’s civil war, but Beijing has never accepted Taipei’s claim that the war is over.

Hung argues that the Chinese civil war hadn’t begun as a war between two sovereign states, but international law applied now, because the People’s Republic exists side by side with the Republic of China in Taiwan:

The difficulty facing Beijing and Taipei is that of the rectification of names. Taiwan has to negotiate with China as an independent, sovereign state named the Republic of China while the People’s Republic, with the endorsement of the United Nations, regards it as one of its provinces. But there is a modus operandi. There exist the “private-profit organizations” of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) in Taipei and its Chinese counterpart Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). They have concluded 19 agreements in line with the modus vivendi of the “1992 Consensus,” a tacit pact under which both Taipei and Beijing are agreed that there is but one China whose connotations can be orally and separately enunciated.

Which makes me wonder what there would be to be gained for Taiwan, by a peace accord with China.  Hung himself points out how Taiwan would be in a much weaker position in such negotiations than China. What’s the use of a peace treaty or accord, if it isn’t sanctioned by the United Nations, and if any future Chinese aggression can still come in the name of “unification” – justified by a need to stop “secession”, or a need to establish any other kind of “order”  in the “province” of Taiwan, in accordance with the Chinese leaders’ wishes?

If the recommended path was taken, Hung writes,

Ma must initiate a referendum, which certainly will be adopted. The SEF and the ARATS can do the rest of the work. The new Legislative Yuan will ratify it to usher in a lasting peace across the Strait.

But it’s hard to see how “lasting peace” should be more likely with, than without an accord.

A-Gu suggests that

From Beijing’s perspective, the best course of action is to lock Taiwan in to some sort of political framework before anyone else can win or lose. From the KMT’s perspective, this is also beneficial, as it gives them the option of painting any non-’92 policy the DPP may advocate as “dangerous,” as they’ve just done, but perhaps with a stronger effect. Indeed, both the KMT and CCP hope that they can ultimately force the DPP to adopt the ’92 consensus and eventually the “inevitability” of political integration.

Certainly, the idea of a “peace accord” sounds nice. “Peace” usually does. And as they once said at a conference organized by the UNESCO, “peace is a journey – a never-ending process”. That’s what many Taiwanese citizens could certainly live with.

But  the UNESCO had the role of religion on its mind, not negotiations between two sovereign states. If it is up to Beijing, there is a defined destination point for the journey Lien Chan – in Joe Hung’s view, anyway – started in April, 2005.

The two parties hope that the results of this visit and talks will help to increase the happiness of the compatriots on both sides of the strait, open up new prospects in cross-strait ties, and create the future for the Chinese nation,

the KMT-CPP agreement of April 29, 2005 said.

Peace isn’t necessarily war. But as long as China can only listen to its own narrative about Taiwan, and as long as Beijing remains committed to annex the country either by means of peace or war, peace isn’t really peace, either. The best result of the recommended negotiations would be the status quo – exactly what Taiwan has today. When there is nothing to gain, but a lot to lose, why should Taiwan’s government seek “peace talks”?

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