The Grass Will Not Be Trampled Because the Tigers Need Not Fight: New Thoughts and Old Paradigms for Detente across the Taiwan Strait

By Puder, Markus G. | Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, May 2001 | Go to article overview

The Grass Will Not Be Trampled Because the Tigers Need Not Fight: New Thoughts and Old Paradigms for Detente across the Taiwan Strait


Puder, Markus G., Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law


ABSTRACT

This Article examines the relationship between the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic, and explores whether the German experience may contain lessons for the relations between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan.

The Author's analysis of the German situation begins with a discussion of the relations between the separate German states, with a particular emphasis on how that relationship was shaped by the Basic Treaty. That document provided for the promotion of peaceful relations, recognition of independence and sovereignty of each nation, as well as a normalization of the diplomatic relations. After ratification, the Bavarian State Government sought a declaration that the ratification law was incompatible with the Basic Law, which conceived of Germany as one nation. The German Federal Constitutional Court unanimously rejected the petition, finding that the Basic Treaty was compatible with the Basic Law. The Author examines the Court's methods of analysis, as well as the ramifications of the Court's decision.

The Author then turns to an examination of the relations between the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. He recognizes that the People's Republic of China advocates the One-China principle for achieving a peaceful reunification between the mainland and Taiwan. By contrast, the government of Taiwan maintains that China has been split into two separate and independent states with divergent political and economic systems.

The Author notes that such divergent viewpoints had plagued German rapprochement. Once the parties moved past their disagreements, however, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic were able to launch a viable partnering mechanism that increased the permeability of the inner-German border, facilitated German-German dialogue, and alleviated the hardships of division. The Author suggests that the Chinese affinity for treaty frameworks in the context of legal and political arrangements may be harnessed for increased levels of interaction in social, economic, trade, and other venues. Furthermore, the Author contends, the success of the Basic Treaty has illustrated how increasing contacts and decreasing tensions can effectively enhance the relationship.

I. INTRODUCTION(2)

On July 9, 1999, in an interview with the German Radio Station Deutsche Welle, the former President of Taiwan--the Republic of China (hereinafter Taiwan), Lee Teng-hui, characterized "cross-strait relations [between Taipei and Beijing] as ... at least a special state-to-state relationship."(3) These remarks sparked a flurry of reactions, including vehement criticisms from the Government of the People's Republic of China,(4) subsequent clarifications by officials from Taiwan,(5) and mixed pronouncements from different players in the United States.(6)

Dr. Lee Teng-hui's locution connotes a pattern molded by the late Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Willy Brandt (1968-74), who, against significant domestic resistance, based his policy of detente (Entspannungspolitik) on accepting the former German Democratic Republic as an equal.(7) After the completion of Germany's integration into the Western institutional, economic, and security frameworks that had dominated the Adenauer era,(8) Chancellor Brandt sought concrete steps for approaching the Eastern neighbors to lower tensions in Central Europe and improve inner-German relations.(9) Early in his tenure, Mr. Brandt proposed that the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany conclude a treaty on the mutual relations for the purpose of "arriving through regulated coexistence at togetherness."(10) Clarifying that his Government did not plan to recognize the German Democratic Republic under international law,(11) the Chancellor emphasized that the two states did not constitute foreign countries in relation to each other.(12) According to Mr. …

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