Ties between the two sides of the Taiwan strait are growing warmer and warmer. This should be no surprise, as its exactly what ROC president Ma Yingjiu promised in his campaign leading to a landslide victory earlier this year. With the arrival of mainland tourists in Taiwan representing another new milestone, we are clearly living through an inflection point in cross-strait relations.
But where will cross-strait relations go from here? That’s where the difference in opinion lies. One expat commentator in Taiwan offers this analysis (courtesy of A-gu’s blog):
Most KMT party members and supporters seem not to believe that China actually means any harm to Taiwan– and especially not now that there will be a unified KMT government. They believe that the anger of China and the rest of the world is directed solely at Chen Shui-bian and the DPP. They think that if Taiwan’s government can just behave, quietly cooperate with Beijing and give up the quest for de jure independence, that China will reciprocate by allowing Taiwan to indefinitely maintain the “status quo” of de facto independence.
So far, so good. I believe that to be an accurate statement on pan-Blue beliefs, and I also believe it’s an accurate statement of what most Chinese (certainly myself) firmly believe. However, he follows up with this:
People voted for Ma because they mistakenly believe he is capable of indefinitely prolonging the so-called “status quo” –which in reality has never been static.
The majority of voters are apparently naive enough to believe that they can keep all of their freedoms and civil rights, while simultaneously acceeding to a gradual accomodation of the PRC’s one-China ideology.
And that, in one cynical sentence, captures China’s challenge when it comes to Taiwan. Are the voters who’ve put their faith in the pan-Blue parties “naive” for trusting the PRC’s “one China ideology”? Are the Taiwanese destined to be disappointed; will they lose their freedoms and civil rights? Will the first Chinese democracy fail?
Some of these expats in Taiwan seem to have a much better crystal ball than I do; they speak with great certainty about a dark future for Taiwan. My best guess is completely different; I believe Taiwan, and China’s golden years are ahead of us. But I will candidly admit that this is a guess, and there is much work left to do. We only live in the present, and our actions, our children’s actions will all make a difference in determining where things go.
The Taiwanese people have voted to assume that the Chinese people have the wisdom to preserve and learn from the successful political system in Taiwan; they have voted with the hope that we can learn to live side by side, that we can bridge the political/economic/cultural gap that currently divide us. As a son-in-law of Taiwan (just like Jackie Chan!), I hope that we don’t fail to meet their high expectations.
I will just end with a hopeful quote from Lian Zhan, honorary chairman of Taiwan’s ruling party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) (连接):
If the type of visits by these mainland friends can be maintained permanently, they will eventually blossom flowers and bear fruit. Our efforts will make the world’s people proud of our generation of Chinese (zhongguo ren).