Newspaper article China Post

The Contradictions of a Post-Ma Cross-Strait Order

Newspaper article China Post

The Contradictions of a Post-Ma Cross-Strait Order

Article excerpt

In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain returned triumphantly from Germany having secured "peace for our time," believing that he had brought peace by appeasing the rapidly rising Fascist power in continental Europe. History remembers this phrase now for its irony and for the harsh reality: just because we want to see something as reality does not make it so.

President Ma Ying-jeou's meeting with General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping has been criticized as a pre-election stunt, a distraction from real issues of the "Wag-the-Dog" variety and a bid for securing his historical legacy on the one hand, but it has also been lauded as securing peace in the Taiwan Strait through the "masterpiece of ambiguity": the "1992 Consensus." Ma would certainly like to believe that China and Taiwan have reached a new phase in their relations after the meeting, but perhaps we are witnessing the ghost of Chamberlain in the Taiwan Straits.

Although history is never a stable retelling of the past, Ma will be irrevocably tied to what he has accomplished and failed to accomplish in his policies toward China. In the narratives of Communist China's official history, Ma has already secured a place as a lynchpin for eight years of the most stable and harmonious relations between the two sides. But the Ma-Xi meeting's aftermath in Taiwan is far more unclear, and this is the ultimate price the administration has paid for its November wager.

He left Taipei for Singapore, telling the world he was building a bridge for the island's future leaders - a bridge that could serve as the platform for high-level meetings and a means to flesh out cross-strait ties. But a bridge built on an opaque "1992 Consensus," which Ma readily admitted after the historic meeting was known to veer into directions away from its "separate interpretations" spirit, has the function of connecting Taiwan deeper into uncertainty.

In the battle over who can maintain the status quo in cross-strait relations, Ma criticizes his party's main political opponent, Tsai Ing-wen, for her ambiguous stance on the former while employing among the greatest feats of ambiguity himself. …

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