Friday, May 06, 2005

China Fever

“China Fever”(中國熱) has descended on Taiwan, all agree, and my guess is it will have about the same shelf–life as those egg tarts that absolutely everybody had to eat a couple of years ago. What is clear is that Lien and the KMT have made a brilliant tactical move in going to China, but it's largely a triumph in the limited but not to be dismissed area of public relations. It's unlikely there will be much follow-up, because there has been no break-through on the central issue: The CCP insists that the DPP must, as a precondition for talks, renounce the plank in its constitution that calls for independence; Chen, after meeting with James Soong, agreed that he would not declare independence during his remaining term of office in return for the Chinese not using force to take the island. Not enough, China said. China insists that any talks be held under the“one-China”principle; Chen, after his talk with Soong, agreed not to change the present name of the sovereignty – The Republic of China – during this term of office. It was a largely semantical concession, but“Name Rectification”had been very important to the DPP prior to the disappointing Legislative elections. It was also a semantical concession that could be seized to give face to China on the “one – China” issue. Still not enough, said Beijing. Soong is hinting at the possibility of some sort of reinterpretation of terms that could be negotiated during his trip which began yesterday. Mostly, I think it's unlikely to work out because the differences between the two parties (DPP and CCP) are cardinal differences that are not negotiable. Maybe I'm wrong, and a face-saving verbal formulation will be found that would allow talks to start, but that opportunity hasn't been grasped in recent months. Why would it be now?