Home > News > "The sky has cleared after the rain": KMT Chairman Wu Boxiong in Beijing

"The sky has cleared after the rain": KMT Chairman Wu Boxiong in Beijing

Wu Boxiong, chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has landed in Beijing. The Chinese Nationalist Party currently controls both the presidency and the legislative yuan in Taiwan, giving his visit special weight.

He earlier visited the southern-capital of Nanjing, the original capital of the Republic of China (now in Taiwan). As is tradition for all KMT visitors, he paid his respects to the grave of Sun Zhongshan. Sun Zhongshan remains recognized as the “father of our nation” (国父) in both the mainland and Taiwan, and his presence is a constant reminder of that which unites both straits.

In Beijing, Hu Jintao responded to Ma Yingjiu’s inauguration speech by explicitly re-stating that the issue of Taiwan joining the WHO would be solved as the first priority in upcoming negotiations.

The fact that this seemingly simple issue deeply divided the two sides for years goes to show just how devious the campaign run by the independence-seeking administration of Chen Shui-bian was. In Beijing, Chen Shui-bian’s campaign to get the WHO to accept Taiwan as a sovereign member was seen as dangerous, because it would set possible legal precedent for formal independence. In Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian was able to paint this as a sign that Beijing were willing to sacrifice the health of average Taiwanese to achieve a political goal. (Left unsaid is the obvious fact that Chen Shui-bian was also willing to sacrifice the health of average Taiwanese to achieve a political goal: Taiwan could’ve been involved in the WHO as “Taipei, China” at any point over the last 8 years.)

But hopefully this issue, and other similar issues, will be resolved to the advantage of all involved.

Here are a few key quotes from Hu Jintao, after meeting Wu in Beijing:

Hu Jintao emphasized that the Communist and Nationalist parties must work together to establish confidence and put aside conflict, help create a win-win situation. The first step is to establish mutual confidence, this is critical to pushing forward cross-strait relations. Opposing Taiwanese independence and holding firm to the “92 consensus” is the basic foundation of confidence-building. As long as there is shared unity on this core question, everything else can be discussed. Of secondary importance is putting aside conflict. There are still historical legacies that create problems, and there might also be new problems, and some of these issues can’t be solved immediately. We have to have a practical attitude, and attempt to solve these issues with good-will…

Hu Jintao expressed that we understand the Taiwanese compatriots feelings about seeking international space. As was mentioned in a statement released in 2005, after cross-strait negotiations are re-started, both sides will discuss the question of international participation, including priority for the question of joining the World Health Organization…

Hu Jintao stressed that the Communist Party will continue to insist on protecting the basic interests of the Chinese people (zhonghua minzu), including the shared interests of our Taiwanese compatriots. We care for, respect, and trust our Taiwanese compatriots. As far as the misunderstandings and suspicions some Taiwanese compatriots hold towards cross-strait relations, we will do more than just try to accept them, we will take active measures to resolve their concerns.

I am willing to speak with authority and tell chairman Wu that the mainland will always consider the basic interests of all the sons and daughters of the Chinese race. We will not mix together the concepts of “localization” and Taiwanese independence.

In his meeting, Hu again brings up the WHO issue and stresses shared common roots, and also accommodated the obvious growth of “Taiwanese consciousness” with a Chinese identity. It all seems a clear response to the topics that Ma Yingjiu stressed in his inauguration speech. Combining Hu and Ma’s public statements, it’s hard not to be optimistic about the future of cross-strait affairs. The continued cooperation and positive good-will shared by the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party should mean rapid progress going forward.

Hu Jintao also invited Wu Boxiong to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and Wu has accepted. In some ways its a shame, because some of us hoped President Ma Yingjiu could personally attend the Opening Ceremony.

UPDATE: Not everyone is celebrating the repeated mentions of shared Chinese heritage from Ma Yingjiu and Wu Boxiong.  For Western ex-pats in Taiwan, the only option the vast majority support is full independence.  See Michael Turton’s blog here, and here.  The idea of a reunified China based on shared Chinese heritage doesn’t do much for them.

Categories: News Tags: ,
  1. miborovsky
    May 28th, 2008 at 20:10 | #1

    Actually, I believe that Sun Yat-sen’s is semi-officially known as the “pioneer of the revolution” (革命先行者). All references to him as “father of the nation” (國父) are surrounded by quotes, ie. “the so-called” father of the nation. The PRC is not quite there yet in its acceptance of Sun Yat-sen.

  2. Buxi
    May 28th, 2008 at 20:49 | #2

    miborovsky,

    You’re right, Xinhua still typically uses quotes. But quotes aren’t exactly the same thing as so-called…

    In other areas of the Chinese press, as well as amongst the Chinese public, it’s not uncommon to see Sun Zhongshan referred to as guofu:
    http://yule.sohu.com/20070312/n248662895.shtml

    It even goes into some Xinhua reports:

    http://www.xhby.net/xhby/content/2006-11/12/content_1460206.htm
    http://www.gd.xinhuanet.com/fortune/2006-07/20/content_7554281.htm

    Sun Zhongshan is deeply respected on the mainland.

  3. May 28th, 2008 at 20:57 | #3

    “The sky has cleared after the rain” – and if you believe that you’ll believe anything. Essentially the story remains the same – Taiwan will not be ‘returning to the motherland’ any time soon, negotiations under the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ will not bring anymore results than the original negotiations did. If it serves the interests of the CCP to stir up trouble in the straits then they will, the colour of the party in power in Taipei does little to affect this.

    You refer to “Rapid progress going forward”, may I ask what you expect to happen? Do you think that Taiwan’s reliance on the US for defence will be replaced by reliance on the PRC by former US green-card holder ‘Mark’ Ma Yingjiu? Do you think that Taiwanese agricultural produce will be flooding the mainland? How can Ma Yingjiu’s (apparent) commitment to ROC sovereignty be accomodated with the solution suggested here for WHO membership?

    Meanwhile, of course, membership of the modern KMT (and not the CCP’s puppet ‘revolutionary commitee) remains illegal on the mainland, display (or even possession) of the ROC flag ‘threatens the nation’, the former KMT regime is portrayed as a ‘semi-colonial government’ in state media, the number of countries recognising the ROC continues to shrink (what is it now? 25?). It is hard to see this continued marginalisation of the KMT and the republic which they founded stopping under Ma’s leadership.

    “(Left unsaid is the obvious fact that Chen Shui-bian was also willing to sacrifice the health of average Taiwanese to achieve a political goal: Taiwan could’ve been involved in the WHO as “Taipei, China” at any point over the last 8 years.)”

    This argument could just as easily be turned against those who would not allow recognition of the ROC or Taiwan by any organisation which also recognises the PRC.

  4. DJ
    May 28th, 2008 at 21:21 | #4

    miborovsky,

    I clearly remember the terms of 国父 (father of nation) and 国母 (mother of nation) being used to refer 孙中山 (Sun Yat-sen) and 宋庆龄 (his wife) while I was growing up in China (till 1988).

    And if Xinhua puts quotation marks around the term 国父, it is perhaps a simple reflection that this honor term was not designated by the People’s Republic of China government in an official manner. (The Republic of China government, did officially designate this term back on April 1, 1940.) But the widespread usage of this term both by the government and citizens clearly demonstrates a universal acceptance in the mainland.

    I disagree with your interpretation of quotation marks as meaning “So-called”. “So-called”, as used in the Chinese language, is a generally negative phrase. This is obviously not the case because the commonly accepted historic perspective on Sun Yat-sen has always been very positive.

  5. miborovsky
    May 28th, 2008 at 21:44 | #5

    DJ,

    I can’t really recall what they were called when I was growing up in China (till 1999) so you are probably right, then.

    But if you and Buxi don’t think that quotation marks in this case should be translated into “so-called”, how do you think the nuances in the following news article:

    而在台灣,每到中山先生誕辰紀念日,逝世紀念日,國民黨、親民黨、新黨等都會到“國父紀念館”向中山先生坐像致敬。比如,去年11月12日,吳伯雄就率同馬英九、蕭萬長、王金平等黨內人士前往台北“國父紀念館”獻花,紀念孫中山先生誕辰141周年。今年5月22日上午,“總統”馬英九與“副總統”蕭萬長率文武百官,到台北的“圓山忠烈祠”,隔海遙祭“國父”孫中山,告慰孫中山在天之靈,宣示繼承辛亥革命薪火,“國祚”綿延。

    Here, the quotes surround terms which the PRC does not recognize, such as the fact that Ma Ying-jeou is the president, or that Sun Yat-sen is the father of the nation. i.e. “Well, that’s what they’re calling him, but we ain’t having any of that”.

    Of course, I have no doubt that most people in mainland China already think of SYS and MYJ as such, but this does not represent the official attitude, which still fails to acknowledge the achievements of most pre-1950 personae.

  6. AC
    May 28th, 2008 at 21:51 | #6

    You refer to “Rapid progress going forward”, may I ask what you expect to happen?

    “Direct links”, “Peace agreement” and economic integration.

    Do you think that Taiwan’s reliance on the US for defence will be replaced by reliance on the PRC by former US green-card holder ‘Mark’ Ma Yingjiu?

    No. But I think the US will make less money on arm sales from now on.

    Do you think that Taiwanese agricultural produce will be flooding the mainland?

    Yes, and why not?

    How can Ma Yingjiu’s (apparent) commitment to ROC sovereignty be accomodated with the solution suggested here for WHO membership?

    Chinese Taipei?

  7. DJ
    May 28th, 2008 at 21:53 | #7

    miborovsky,

    This is interesting. I just have a completely different read of the snippet you provided. The fact that Xinhua is now willing to use the term 總統 (President) to refer Ma, even if it is in quotation marks, represents a major step forward. Please correct me if I am wrong, but did the PRC and Xinhua ever use the word “President” while talking about Chen? Isn’t always “regional leader of Taiwan” instead?

  8. miborovsky
    May 28th, 2008 at 22:05 | #8

    DJ,

    That is an excellent point! I admit I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but you are correct. CSB was never referred to as the president.

  9. DJ
    May 28th, 2008 at 22:27 | #9

    miborovsky,

    By the way, was this snippet from Xinhua? I did a quick Google search and it seems to have come from 文匯報 Wenweipo in HK. Wenweipo clearly has a strong connection to the mainland, but it is not Xinhua per se.

  10. Buxi
    May 28th, 2008 at 22:42 | #10

    I grew up in Nanjing (the grandson of senior KMT officials), and visited the Zhongshan Memorial several times a year… so perhaps my perspective on whether he’s seen as the 国父 is biased.

    There’s a major rethink going on in the mainland when it comes to relations with the pre-1949 Republic of China era, all starting with Hu Jintao and Lien Zhan’s historic handshake 4 years ago. Who would’ve thought 10 years ago there would be serious discussions about relocating the remains of Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek) back to his ancestral village in Zhejiang?

    I agree with DJ that “so-called” is a term with negative connotations. I think if that’s what Xinhua meant in connection with Sun Zhongshan, it would’ve used the term 所谓.

  11. Buxi
    May 28th, 2008 at 22:53 | #11

    Essentially the story remains the same – Taiwan will not be ‘returning to the motherland’ any time soon, negotiations under the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ will not bring anymore results than the original negotiations did.

    It’s hard to see how this can be called “the story”. I already conceded before that I agree with President Ma, we’re unlikely to see reunification in his lifetime. But I’m much more optimistic that we’ll see reunification in mine (… as long as I start exercising more). And that wasn’t as true before Ma’s election, and it really wasn’t true before Lian’s visit.

    Things have changed dramatically since 1992. Neither government is interested in making a political side at the expense of the other, like they were in 1992. Both sides are looking to create a double-win, period. Beijing is calculating that social and economic integration will make reunification inevitable, and Taipei has decided that it’s a distant enough issue that it doesn’t care.

    You refer to “Rapid progress going forward”, may I ask what you expect to happen?

    You may ask, and I’d be happy to answer. AC has already hit on many of the major points, I’ll just fill in the answers a little more on economic integration.

    Within 8 years, I expect millions of mainland tourists will visit Taiwan every year (15 million are visiting Hong Kong every year). I expect even more businesses to become “Greater China” businesses, rather than Taiwanese or mainland businesses. I expect that tens of thousands of mainland students will study in Taiwan, and vice versa. I even expect that future leaders of the Communist Party to spend a semester or two learning at Taiwanese universities.

  12. May 28th, 2008 at 23:03 | #12

    “Direct links”, “Peace agreement” and economic integration.

    Since none of these happened during the talks between 1992 and 2000 which presumably also took place under the ‘1992 consensus’ – why should this change now? Also, I was under the impression that the civil war was ended under the pre-1992 talks (and why didn’t these talks require a ‘consensus’?). As for economic integration, this has not been acheived even in the case of Hong Kong and Macau.

    Do you think that Taiwanese agricultural produce will be flooding the mainland?

    Yes, and why not?

    For the blatantly obvious reason that there is no market for them on the mainland – and that the idea that mainland China would form a market for southern Taiwanese farmers was a piece of fraudulent flim-flam.

    Chinese Taipei?

    So the sovereignty of an independent state is best defended by using a ridiculous legal fiction – should East Germany have been satisfied with recognition under the name ‘German East Berlin’? Should North Korea be forced to join the WHO as ‘Korean Pyongyang’? No Taiwanese people identify with ‘Chinese Taipei’. The ROC – yes, Taiwan – yes, but not Chinese Taipei.

  13. May 28th, 2008 at 23:22 | #13

    @Buxi –

    “Beijing is calculating that social and economic integration will make reunification inevitable, and Taipei has decided that it’s a distant enough issue that it doesn’t care.”

    So your saying that you hope that Taiwanese politicians will negotiate themselves out of existence – I doubt it.

    “Neither government is interested in making a political side at the expense of the other, like they were in 1992.”

    I think recent events have shown us how quickly the PRC government will throw aside previous policy to make quick political points if it feels it is to its benefit.

    “I expect even more businesses to become “Greater China” businesses, rather than Taiwanese or mainland businesses. I expect that tens of thousands of mainland students will study in Taiwan, and vice versa. I even expect that future leaders of the Communist Party to spend a semester or two learning at Taiwanese universities.”

    I spent two and a half years in Nanjing, and a year in Miaoli in Taiwan, and let me tell you, future party leaders will not find Taiwan much to their tastes. I also spent two years working for a Taiwanese firm with strong mainland links, but it was still most definitely a Taiwanese firm, as both Taiwanese and Mainland collegues stated quite often but with different implied meaning. Taiwan has a strong local culture all of its own, one that I’m sure mainland tourists would flock to if they could, but they will find much there that clashes with their preconceptions of the place.

  14. Buxi
    May 28th, 2008 at 23:40 | #14

    So your saying that you hope that Taiwanese politicians will negotiate themselves out of existence – I doubt it.

    I’d instead say that in a few generations, Taiwanese politicians will negotiate for themselves the opportunity to lead 1.3 billion people, rather than just 23 million.

    I think recent events have shown us how quickly the PRC government will throw aside previous policy to make quick political points if it feels it is to its benefit.

    I’m reasonably sure that’s true for any government ever invented. We can only talk about what we see in front of us (and are likely to stay in front of us as long as Ma remains in office), not hypotheticals. If you have a specific reason to suggest Beijing or Taiwan would change policy, let us know. The hand-waving argument that someone might wake up on the wrong side of the bed doesn’t fly.

    Taiwan has a strong local culture all of its own, one that I’m sure mainland tourists would flock to if they could, but they will find much there that clashes with their preconceptions of the place.

    I don’t know that your two years of experience in Nanjing gives you the qualification to speak for future party leaders. I know many Communist leaders have spent time studying at Harvard… Boston has a pretty different culture too, doesn’t it?

    Frankly, I think every part of the mainland has a local culture of its own. The same is even more true of Hong Kong and Macau. I think China is more tolerant in this dimension than you give it credit for.

    That said, maybe I’m wrong… maybe in 30 years, after we get to know each other better, mainland Chinese will hate the Taiwanese and vice versa, and we will all decide that we have more different than we have in common. If that’s the case, then independence makes sense.

    In the mean time, my Taiwanese wife and I are strong believers that we have more in common than the differences that divide us. (Even her family loves me.)

  15. AC
    May 29th, 2008 at 01:56 | #15

    Since none of these happened during the talks between 1992 and 2000 which presumably also took place under the ‘1992 consensus’ – why should this change now? Also, I was under the impression that the civil war was ended under the pre-1992 talks (and why didn’t these talks require a ‘consensus’?). As for economic integration, this has not been acheived even in the case of Hong Kong and Macau.

    Because today’s China is five times stronger (militarily and economically) than it was in 1992. The balance of power has changed. Now there are many benefits for Taiwan to build closer ties with the mainland.

    “Cease fire” is not the same as a “Peace agreement”. “Peace agreement” means that there will be no war between the two sides.

    For the blatantly obvious reason that there is no market for them on the mainland – and that the idea that mainland China would form a market for southern Taiwanese farmers was a piece of fraudulent flim-flam.

    I don’t know what makes you think that there is no market for them. “Direct link” will make their products more competitive.

    So the sovereignty of an independent state is best defended by using a ridiculous legal fiction – should East Germany have been satisfied with recognition under the name ‘German East Berlin’? Should North Korea be forced to join the WHO as ‘Korean Pyongyang’? No Taiwanese people identify with ‘Chinese Taipei’. The ROC – yes, Taiwan – yes, but not Chinese Taipei.

    We Chinese are pragmatic people, haven’t you noticed that?

  16. Bing Ma Yong
    May 29th, 2008 at 02:16 | #16

    “Taiwan has a strong local culture all of its own”

    I agree with this. But you haven’t stayed in other places in mainland and you haven’t experienced enough Han culture. (I am not comparing different ethnic groups here)
    If you stayed in different provinces especially if you stayed in small towns , you will find the cultural difference between lets say Quan Zhou(泉州) in mainland and Miaoli in Taiwan is much smaller than the difference between QuanZhou and JiuQuan(酒泉).

    We speak very different dialects, some couldn’t understand each other. We have very different foods, very different customs, different traditional dressings, different traditional house style etc. a lots of difference between different groups of Han people are even bigger than the difference between different European countries. In the past 20 years du to the modernization, the massive population migrants, the differences are getting smaller in big cities.

    I tell you my own little story. I was born in Henan and grew up in a mountain town in a neighboring province. The state owned company my parents worked for was relocated from Nanjing for the fearing of the worst between China and Soviet Union then. The company had it’s own compound with factory, offices ,residential buildings , childcare, schools, bus service, fruit market, supermarket. We were isolated from local people. We kids couldn’t speak local dialects. The local people eat different foods, mainly noodles and baked bread. Their village houses were half-roof style. The local people never eat prawn and fishes prior early 70’ till they saw this company workers, mainly southerners, were catching fish in the river. The local people were shocked in the beginning of “ those southerners are eating river insects- that’s what they thought about prawn..”

    You should go to different provinces and stay a bit longer than few days to experience all different Chinese subcultures. And you will be amazed by the difference , by the tolerance and by the co-exist.

  17. Bing Ma Yong
    May 29th, 2008 at 02:36 | #17

    @Buxi,

    hmm, how dare of you “I’d instead say that in a few generations, Taiwanese politicians will negotiate for themselves the opportunity to lead 1.3 billion people, rather than just 23 million.”

    I am bit further than that actually. I think Ma YingJiu should now lead the “greater China” not only ROC. I am not saying I am against Hu and Wen. I am saying Ma Yingjiu and KMT are more moderate. They are better option as the administration in terms of politics, economics,technology, foreign policy etc. they are more open minded, more globalized at same time more Chinese traditional than CCP. If I have a vote.

    Sorry,comrades if i dare to say this.

  18. Buxi
    May 29th, 2008 at 03:22 | #18

    BMY,

    Sorry, you old general, I can’t agree with that. 🙂

    Ma Yingjiu doesn’t understand the mainland much better than FOARP. He just spent a year riding a bicycle around Tainan in order to understand the local people… I think he needs 10 years riding a bicycle around all of the mainland in order to understand the local people.

    I think Ma Yingjiu is more globalized and open-minded than Hu/Wen… but Hu/Wen worked in Gansu, Tibet, Guizhou. And at this point in China’s development I think that’s very important.

    If Ma is able to work in Henan for 5 years and do a good job there… then I would agree with you!

  19. Jane
    May 29th, 2008 at 03:46 | #19

    I too think the KMT has broadened its horizon and its eyes are on the bigger prize: ruling the entire greater China.

    That said, Taiwan is very different from the Mainland mostly because the Mainland was closed off for so long. I kind of cringe at the thought of Mainland tourists going to Taiwan. I know it’s not the most significant issue but the majority of Mainlanders lack manners. Taiwanese will be horrified at the spitting, smoking everywhere, talking loudly everywhere, cutting in line, etc. As much as I love the Chinese people, they seriously need to learn some manners!

    Most Taiwanese do not want reunification I think because they do not want to be associated with Mainlanders who are perceived as less refined. Of course this will change as Mainlanders become economically more prosperous and regain their sense of culture. We saw this happen with Hong Kong. Initially they looked at Mainlanders like pests, but as Mainland’s economic clout grew, Hong Kongers’ attitude changed 180.

  20. Buxi
    May 29th, 2008 at 17:36 | #20

    Jane,

    I think that this social divide is the biggest issue too.

    Even my Taiwanese in-laws had many, many preconceptions about mainland Chinese (and I hope I’ve helped dispel some of them). They had told me that they were afraid to get in contact with their mainland relatives… because they thought they’d want to borrow money.

    There are still “ugly Chinese” tourists in Hong Kong and Macau, and I’m sure there will be “ugly Chinese” tourists in Taiwan. But I believe the root cause of all this “ugliness” is poverty and lack of exposure to the world, because I know at heart we’re good, kind, generous people with the same general cultural values as those in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

    That’s why I think a 30 year time horizon is more likely for reunification. Just wait until my children (who will grow up with a toilet and napkins) are in their 30s.

  21. Nimrod
    May 29th, 2008 at 20:25 | #21

    Jane, attitudes will change as soon as people get a more than superficial view of mainland Chinese, that is to say, when they’ve met enough people to begin to distinguish people as distinguish people as individuals rather than a group.

    Taiwanese won’t be shocked at some spitting and loud talking, because they’ll realize that’s just how some people are. It’s not like they haven’t seen enough betel nut juice spitting locals.

  22. May 29th, 2008 at 22:47 | #22

    @Buxi – All the same, I can picture fireworks happening if mainland students start saying the wrong things around folks like a Miaoli mate of mine who swore that he would rather die than see Taiwan ever go back to the mainland. People (especially students) on the mainland seem to live in this make-believe land where the only reason that Taiwan is still separate is a combination of America, Japan and ‘a handful of independence elements’, rather than the majority of the population who think of themselves as either Taiwanese or Taiwanese and Chinese.

    I try not to take any sides in the independence argument, but I have to admit that my sympathies lie more with my mainly independence-leaning friends than with people who label Li Denghui ‘日本的走够’ and who make bombastic toasts to ‘liberating’ Taiwan. This is not to say that I cannot see a future in which Taiwan forms part of a democratic China, but this will never happen under the CCP.

    @Jane – Hong Kong attitudes are changing, but I think it would be an exaggeration to say they have changed 180. Maybe 90 degrees, maybe 120, but not 180!

  23. Buxi
    May 30th, 2008 at 16:52 | #23

    FOARP,

    For years, I dated a girl who was strongly in favor of Taiwanese independence… but really, much of it was just her family’s passionate influence. She actually used to talk about how she felt like we were Romeo/Juliet; I *really* had no idea what she meant at the time, since I was basically clueless about cross-strait issues.

    In other words… the things we have in common often makes the political divide seem insignificant. Personal relationships allow us to overcome political divides, not the other way around.

    There are passionate pro-unification people in Taiwan too, and yet your friend in Miaoli has gotten through life without killing any of them… quite simply, passions don’t get that heated when you’re dealing with an individual that you come to know and respect (at least as long as its not campaign season).

    I know what the ardent pro-TI people say about the mainland Chinese, and I also know many of the things they’re saying are false or exaggerated… we have far more in common than they think. And this is precisely why I think social integration is very important to solving the problem.

    I think its a safe guess that your Miaoli friend has never had a drink or flirted with a mainland Chinese nationalist. In the next 30 years, he (or his children) eventually will. And I’m optimistic about what will follow.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.