The Mainland-Taiwan Reunification issue is an internal affair left over by domestic military conflict between two political parties, CCP and KMT, resulting in today’s split of two governments, one in Mainland and one in Taiwan. This fact is recognized by all Chinese citizens, by the two current domestic governments in China and by the overwhelming majority of UN members. Each government is upholding a version of Constitution crafted after the beliefs of a free, independent and modern Republic nation desired by the Chinese people. The desired Republic and its constitution were earned by the Chinese people through their blood-shed revolution not only against a corrupt dynasty but also foreign interventions. The original Constitution contains the most salient principles that the Father of China, the revolution leader Dr. Sun Yat Sen, had prescribed in his famous book, Three Principles of the People, as the foundation of a ‘Republic’ China. Post WW II, the domestic conflict between two political parties, KMT and CCP, split China in two with the Mainland governed by CCP and Taiwan by KMT, each upholding a version of Constitution. The two versions have been revised to accommodate government services administered over Mainland and Taiwan, but the two constitutions however clearly proclaim China as one sovereign nation with her sovereignty defined over the land and seas including Mainland, Taiwan and South China Sea islands. Taiwan’s 1947 version of Constitution was revised in 2003 to allow the President to call for referendum in case of an imminent attack. The pro-independence political force in Taiwan (DPP Party) sought to inch towards independence through revision of Constitution but never could succeed. The Mainland’s original 1954 version of Constitution has been amended regulaly (1975, 1978, 1982, 1988, 1993, 1999, and 2004) as needed; its current version is the 12th revision since 1911 with a clear definition of autonomous regions and how different political systems may function under the One China governance and her Constitution.
In the modern world, any political governance must have and must obey a constitution to be legitimate in governing its people. Any political movement violating its Constitution only invites bloodshed such as a revolution (if the bloodshed led to success of overthrowing a regime and its constitution) or rebellion (if the bloodshed led to a failure and treason sentence under the Constitution). The former situation requires people’s unyielding support willing to give their lives for the independence cause. The latter situation is often due to politicians’ ambition ignoring people’s ultimate welfare and desire of unity and peaceful governance under a Constitution. Take the most recent independence claim by Catalonia in Spain for example, we can understand what ‘Independence’ means in the modern world. Spain is a nation with a glorious long history evolved from an Imperial system to a nation governed by constitution. Spain’s Constitution defines its federation of states with some given semi-autonomous authority of governance.
Catalonia is a rich state but has no independent taxing authority according to Spanish Constitution and laws. Some people in Catalonia felt unfair in paying more to the central government than getting back in its state budget. Catalonia local government used a referendum to declare independence but received no recognition from the entire people of Spain nor from any major power of EU and the world. Catalonia did not have all its people supporting the independence claim, thus in the end, the Spanish central government applied its constitutional right to remove the President of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, and charged him with treason. He had fled to Brussels but being extradited back to Spain to stand trial.
Catalonia’s independence claim was based on selfish reason ignoring Spanish citizens’ constitutional duties to Spain, hence no justification for declaring independence or launching a revolution. Spain provides national security to Catalonia and has obligation to govern the entire nation fulfilling its constitutional duties. So it is not surprising that the independence issue in Catalonia is ultimately settled by the Constitution, apparently honored by the international community. Taiwan’s current ruling party, DPP, is pushing for independence but both Taiwan’s Constitution (ROC) and Mainland’s Constitution (PRC) prohibit such a split. Even if the entire people on the Taiwan island want to launch a revolution sacrificing blood-shed, the independence claim would fail. Therefore, the sensible political solution is to pursue reunification according to Constitution, Both ROC and PRC version of Constitution have no discrepancy in defining one China and her sovereignty. The political parties and politicians on both sides must accept this resolution according to constitution.
The two Constitutions prescribe a common definition of a republic nation belonging to its people and its government’s responsibility protecting and safeguarding its people’s rights, freedom and duties. Although the two Constitutions describe two somewhat different governmental structure but their spirit of governance are identical, seeking security, freedom and economic welfare for the people, opposing any discrimination against any group in their people and defending against any foreign aggression. In the PRC version, it explicitly states (Article 28), the State must maintain public order and suppress treasonable and other criminal activities endangering the State and its people. It further states in Article 31, the State may establish special administrative regions (e.g. Hong Kong and Macao) and in Article 52-54, the duty of citizens to safeguard the unity of the country and the unity of all its nationalities, to abide Constitution and laws...) and to safeguard the security, honor, interests of motherland (and not commit any crime violating the above). Whereas the ROC Constitution states in Article 138, defense forces shall be above personal, regional, and party affiliations, shall be loyal to the State and shall protect the people and in Article 139, no political party and no individual shall make use of armed forces as an instrument in the struggle for political power.
Based on the above constitutional constraints, obviously the Mainland-Taiwan reunification issue should better be resolved peacefully according to the Constitution. The pro-independence political faction in Taiwan in the past several decades has been pushing towards the red line prescribed by the constitutions. It is acceptable to form opposition political parties but it is not acceptable to build forces (such as the military forces organized by Taiwan Democratic Nation). The DDP’s persistent effort in whitewashing history to brain-wash the young generations may be interpreted as criminal acts to destroy the unity of the country and destruction of the security, honor and interests of the country, both treasonable activities. Thus Lee Deng Hui, Chen shui bian and current President Tsai Ying Wen could be brought to charges according to the Constitution.
Similar to Catalonia, Taiwan cannot declare independence under any circumstances even with a referendum. If Taiwan declared independence, the PRC government could remove the Taiwan government according to the Constitution, by force if necessary. The international community would stand by PRC’s position since it is justified by both Constitutions. Since China allows different political systems to function under One China policy, Taiwan has no excuse to demand independence, especially with 193 States recognizing PRC and only 19 UN members recognizing ROC. The international community would overwhelmingly side with PRC.
The new Taiwan President, Tsai Ying Wen, has deliberately retreated from recognizing One China policy to a fuzzy “Maintaining Status Quo” position, wishfully hoping that the U.S. and Japan will come to Taiwan’s defense in the event that China pushes reunification by force. Tsai is treading a dangerous line by conducting a pro-independence policy under the cover of ‘Maintaining Status Quo’. The ‘Justice’ is clearly on the PRC side since PRC has given Taiwan a friendly most favorable trade status for decades to promote peaceful reunification under ‘the one nation two systems’ doctrine. In politics, one can not fool all the people all the time, if Tsai would not reign back her hypocritical “Maintaining Status Quo” Policy and work towards a peaceful reunification beneficial to all Chinese people, Tsai’s political future would be far worse than Carles Puigdemont of Spain.
Ifay Chang. Ph.D. Producer/Host, Community Education - Scrammble Game Show, Weekly TV Columnist, www.us-chinaforum.org . Trustee, Somers Central School District.