THE "shooting war" between forces loyal to Nationalist leader
Chiang Kai-shek and Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong ended 43
years ago with the Nationalists' retreat to Taiwan. But a global
diplomatic battle between the rival Chinese regimes, each claiming
sole legitimacy to rule the Middle Kingdom, has survived the death
of both leaders. Recent developments suggest that Taiwan now may
try to change the rules of the game.
South Korea's diplomatic recognition of the People's Republic of
China (PRC) on Aug. 24, accompanied by Seoul's agreement to break
relations with Taipei, is a watershed in Taiwan's political
isolation. It leaves the island - the world's 14th largest trading
economy - without diplomatic allies in Asia and recognized by only
29 nations worldwide, compared to 137 for China.
Reformers within Taiwan's ruling Nationalist (KMT) party,
spurred by Seoul's turnabout, have begun to openly question
Taipei's one-China policy.
"What does `one China' mean?" asks KMT legislator Huang Chu-wen.
"Basically, I think `one China' is ... an historic, cultural, and
traditional China, not the China of today."
`Try two Chinas'
Many KMT liberals now say Taipei should adopt the so-called
"divided-nation model," whereby China would be redefined as a
country with two political systems. As in cold-war Germany and
present-day Korea, rival Chinese regimes would function
internationally as independent states while preserving
reunification as a future goal.
"With this concept, we can pursue dual recognition without
violating the one-China principle," says Wei Yung, president of the
Vanguard Institute for Policy Studies and KMT candidate in
legislative elections this December.
More radical calls for recasting Taiwan's diplomatic focus have
come from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Since its
inception in 1986 the DPP has pushed for grass-roots Formosan
nationalism. Last year, the DPP added a "one-China, one-Taiwan"
plank to its platform, dropping all claims to territory across the
Taiwan Strait and declaring the island an independent state.
Ruling KMT conservatives reject the DPP-style independence and
the liberal KMT notion of dual-recognition. They say Beijing would
use its international clout to stymie either initiative. Taiwan's
isolation, conservatives say, is not the result of a Taiwanese
foreign policy failure but rather the product of China's emergence
as a powerful nation.
"When China establishes ties with other countries, they all
accept that Taiwan is part of China. This is a fact, so how can we
change it?" says KMT lawmaker Yok Mu-ming, echoing a position
favored by Taiwan's military establishment. …