(From the National Interest)
By Emily S. Chen, Yeh Chung-Lu
Less than six weeks before Taiwan’s 2016 presidential election in January, presidential candidates in Taiwan have stepped up efforts to sway voters in their favor. Among key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, retirement and the health of the national economy—much focus has been placed on how the cross-strait relations should proceed in the future. A consistent polling result since 1996 has shown that a steady one-third of the Taiwanese people chose to maintain the “status quo” with mainland China and to leave the future relationship undecided. Based on the polling, the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) and the major opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have respectively defined the concept of the “status quo,” each with a different focus on handling the competing relations between the Taiwan public and mainland Chinese leadership. While the KMT emphasizes international and legal aspects of the concept, the DPP’s definition is more domestically driven, related to Taiwan’s democratic system. But what exactly does the Taiwan public want in a cross-strait relationship?
What’s the “status quo”?
In early March 2015, President Ma Ying-jeou reaffirmed that his administration would continue its cross-strait policy to “maintain the status quo” in the Taiwan Strait. His policy rests on two pillars: 1) no announcement of unification or independence and no use of force under the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution to resolve cross-strait issues; and 2) promoting the peaceful development of cross-strait relations on the basis of the “1992 consensus” that accepts “One China” but allows the two sides to have their respective interpretations. In his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore in November, President Ma explained the legal aspect of his interpretation of the “status quo” concept by upholding the 1992 consensus. According to Ma, the ROC Constitution only allows one China to exist; “two Chinas,” “one China and one Taiwan” or “Taiwan independence” is not allowed in the constitution. Read more