Robert HC Tsao, former CEO of United Microelectronics Corporation, a pioneer of information technology in Taiwan, has recently released a video on YouTube making a simple and logical proposal to solve the cross-strait confrontation problem, known as ‘unification issue’, one perspective or as ‘Taiwan Independence’ issue, another perspective. There are numerous interpretations or opinions spanning across the two perspectives presenting a very confusing or muddled political discourse in Taiwan resulting in a chaotic political scene. Even though, the Taiwan issue had its origin as a Chinese domestic issue, the evolvement of ‘Taiwan problem’ since WW II has become an international problem with the U.S. having a deterministic influence and many other nations having a diplomatic revelation such as accepting one China policy and which China to recognize? Mr. Tsao’s video presented a clear discussion of the ‘Taiwan Problem’ and offered a simple proposal to solve the problem with consideration of the political positions of the two parties, DDP and KMT, and the party platform of the Republican and Democrat parties of the U.S. on the Taiwan issue. Mr. Tsao’s effort is plausible and his ‘impartial’ proposal deserves attention not only from the Chinese from both sides of the Taiwan Strait but also from Americans and Chinese Americans in the U.S. Mr. Tsao’s video is made in Mandarin, thus this article is written in English to broaden its audience and to engage additional discussions on different perspectives on the Taiwan issue inside and outside of Taiwan.
Mr. Tsao based his proposal and arguments on the following points:
1. KMT has always advocated reunification but lack of feasible method thus adopted a fuzzy and useless policy of “not to reunify, not to be independent and not to resort on military action”. On the other hand, DPP has passed its platform regarding Taiwan’s future: Taiwan is a de-facto self governed society with a functioning government, any change of Taiwan’s status must be determined by all Taiwan citizens through referendum ballot. Based on the above, it is illogical to have a citizens’ referendum on Taiwan Independence but it is logical to have a citizens’ referendum on unification issue to determine how and when unification is feasible.
2. On the other side, Mainland has passed an anti-separation law. In its Article 16 regarding Taiwan: the government shall use peaceful means to achieve reunification, fulfilling the benefits of the citizens on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and after reunification Taiwan can maintain self-governance.
3. From the position of the U.S., the 2016 Republican Party Convention has passed the following resolution: Any question concerning Taiwan’s future must be determined by peaceful means and through dialogue obtaining all Taiwan citizens’ agreement. Whereas, the 2012 Democrat party Convention adopted the following resolution: The U.S. continue to adhere to one China policy and the Taiwan Relation Act, all disputes should be resolved with peaceful means with all citizens’ agreement and their maximum benefit.
Based on the above, Mr. Tsao argued logically, using citizens referendum with no time limit to determine the acceptance of reunification under what appropriate conditions is a feasible approach to resolve the Taiwan issue. Only a minor modification on Taiwan’s referendum Law is required to facilitate such referendum. Both Mainland and Taiwan governments would be encouraged to apply peaceful means and to develop appropriate conditions to fulfill reunification.
Mr. Tsao’s proposal, although sounds logical, possibly meeting approvals of many people, but it faces challenges from the following oppositions:
A. A minority of people in Taiwan is not only resisting reunification under any condition but also practicing an anti-China ideology. This minority faction has grown from Lee Deng-Hui’s era and has influenced Taiwan’s two major parties creating an illogical and chaotic political atmosphere converting a domestic reunification issue to a hostile rebellion movement. So long as the Taiwan citizens are mesmerized by an illogical ‘hatred’ driven political movement, the reunification referendum proposal cannot be implemented.
B. Judging the positions of the Republican and Democrat parties, one observes that although both parties advocate peaceful means (dialogue and referendum) to settle Taiwan issue, the two parties have never genuinely promoted reunification. In fact, the Republican Party dropped the ‘One China Policy’ term in its party resolution in 2016 and the current US Republican Administration is doing the opposite against ‘reunification’. The US diplomatic plays and sales of military gears to Taiwan including offering submarine development assistance all indicated that the U.S. is changing her China and Taiwan policy revealing somewhat devious motive and hypocritical elements.
Mainland China’s concern on Taiwan’s using referendum to settle Taiwan issue is directly related to the above points. The core concern is that a small fraction of people in Taiwan may hijack the will of 23 million Taiwan citizens which in turn may rob away the desire of 1.4 billion Chinese citizens of a chance to achieve reunification. At this point, it is not whether or not the conditions for reunification are ripe; Mainland China has continuously offered benefits to Taiwan and Taiwan citizens, but the current Taiwan Administration is following a divisive and anti-China recipe to resist reunification. Knowing that Taiwan media and even the U.S. media to some extent can be manipulated; referendum balloting can hardly be trusted. Numerous international referendum events serve as proof of that - all international interferences in national referendum are for foreign benefits and not domestic benefits.
Recently, I have joined a US-China Forum organized fact-finding trip traveling through both Taiwan and Mainland China on the ‘reunification versus independence’ issue. From my observations, Taiwan problem has become a cancer (constant worries and many rush diagnoses and treatment proposals), the current chemo-treatment (political actions, election, referendum, etc) is destroying more internal organs than killing the cancer cells. The cancel cells are in the brain clouding clear thinking and muddying judgement and logic). Perhaps some herb medicine (education on Chinese history and media reform to quash fake news) is needed to cure the cancer. We hope and pray that the herb medicine is not too late and too slow to save Taiwan from parish, a highly probable scenario due to the possibility of “Taiwan Issue’ triggering a war in Asia.