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Saturday, January 26, 2008

In the news ニュース

There was yet another article on Taiwan in the Japan Times ジャパンタイムズ today, and this one was a lot better than the tripe authored by Frank Ching. "Hope for pacifying the strait" http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20080126a1.html is written by a former diplomat, Hisahiko Okazaki (and includes a lot of first-person references, as is common practice with Japanese commentaries). Okazaki finds optimism in a little-known remark that Chinese President Hu Jintao (Ko Kintō) 胡錦濤 made last fall in a report to the 17th National People's Congress 全国人民代表大会 of the Chinese Communist Party 中国共産党:

(Quote) "We would like to make a solemn appeal: On the basis of the one-China principle, let us discuss a formal end to the state of hostility between the two sides across the strait, reach a peace agreement, construct a framework for peaceful development of the two sides and thus usher in a new phase of peace and development in cross-strait relations." (End Quote)

I'm not sure I see what the excitement is about, but Okazaki writes:

"From the moment I learned of this passage, I have considered it an important proposal."

Unlike Ching, Okazaki actually explains the reasoning behind his feelings:

"Taiwan has previously called on China to abandon the option of using armed force, but China rejected Taiwan's call. If a peace agreement as stated in Hu's report means renouncing the use of armed force, it is a landmark proposal and meets the Japanese and American policy goals of seeking a peaceful solution to the Taiwan Strait issue. Neither the reunification of two Chinas nor Taiwan's acceptance of 'one country, two systems' 一国二制度 is made a condition. The basis for talks is the 'one-China principle 一つの中国.' 'One China' is indeed the very basis of the Taiwan issue; at the same time it is a flexible concept."

Okazaki then discusses the groundbreaking dialog held between China and Taiwan in 1993, and how each side disagreed over whether or not Taiwan accepted Beijing's definition of the phrase "One China". Following this, he makes a very interesting suggestion:

"My conclusion is that if the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 民主進歩党 wins in the next presidential election, it would be good for Taiwan if it started negotiations with Beijing on the basis of Hu's proposal. Why the DPP? Negotiations with China over the question of 'one China' alone will be delicate, so I believe that those with strong principles about Taiwan's identity should engage in the negotiations. This does not mean I do not trust Ma Ying-jeou (Ba Eikyū) 馬英九 of the Kuomintang (Guomindang) 中国国民党. In fact, Ma reportedly stated that he does not favor reunification and that it is no problem that China and Taiwan have their respective interpretations of 'one China.' What Ma said, however, is different from what the Kuomintang has asserted in the past. And I also can't ignore the worry that a Kuomintang-led government may follow the lead of China."

Take that, Frank Ching! Just as it took someone with the anti-communist credentials of Richard Nixon リチャード・ニクソン to bring about a breakthrough in relations between the United States and China, Okazaki feels a DPP president is better placed to do the same for Taiwan, as unlike Ma and the KMT, he would be less likely to sell out the island to the mainland. Okazaki then continues on in the same vein:

"Although Hu declared the principle on which China-Taiwan talks should be based, China has yet to spell out the details due to complex domestic circumstances. It will do so but only after talking with Taiwan in the future and coordinating the views at home. Until then, China and Taiwan can be expected to engage in tough, fierce negotiations. Given this, I think it is necessary for a person with a strong belief in Taiwan's identity to engage in such talks. If the DPP negotiates with China, I don't think it would be a bad idea for Taiwan to come to terms with China over the term 'one China.' Taiwan can concede that both sides share a common heritage, at least by virtue of the fact that both use Chinese characters."

By a person who has a strong conception of Taiwan's identity, Okazaki sure as hell isn't referring to Ma Ying-jeou!

"Specifically, the best policy is that Taiwan add the condition that China must agree to Taiwan's membership in the United Nations 国際連合 in return for Taiwan conceding on the 'one China principle.' If that is realized, a number of principles stated in the U.N. Charter, such as sovereign equality, noninterference in internal affairs and a peaceful resolution of disputes, would become applicable. If that condition is set as an absolute condition, I would not care if someone backed by the Kuomintang assumed the post of Taiwanese president. It would be good if unnecessary conditions such as 'neutrality' or 'future reunification' were not added. In the case of Hong Kong, 'one country, two systems' has been introduced. Yet, no popular election has taken place in the 10 years since Hong Kong's reversion to China. Moreover, there are only 40 years left in which Hong Kong can enjoy a 'free society.'"

I don't share Okazaki's optimism on this issue (it's highly unlikely China would concede on the question of UN membership), but I think his views on the topic of Taiwan-China relations are very refreshing. He concludes by writing:

"Hu may be seeking to settle the cross-strait issue in a couple of years, thinking that it is inevitable that the Taiwanese public will become more Taiwan-oriented each year. Thus Taiwan could have the upper hand. Taiwan will not have to compromise at all on the issue of obtaining U.N. membership. If Hu is so insightful and has enough political power to be flexible in his political approach, East Asia could realize the dream of peace in the region after a half century of hostility."

Get this man and his columns some worldwide syndication!

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