Cross-straits relationship after Jiang's high-profile US visit
Ms Susie Chiang, Director of the Kwang Hwa Information and Culture Center, was the Foundation's guest speaker on 9 December 1997. This is a summary of her remarks.
The return of Hong Kong to China puts a new perspective on Cross-Straits relations. Hong Kong's return to China is like a child adopted by someone else and then returned to its parents. But Taiwan is more like an equal of China, more like a brother. We have grown up and have our own ways; we need to be treated as an equal.
After the return of Hong Kong, China is putting more pressure on Taiwan. They are wooing us. It is like a boy chasing a girl, asking for a date, then going out together, a candlelight dinner, very romantic. But then the boy produces a knife and threatens me if I do not marry him. What is a girl to think then? How can I trust this boy? What will happen if I am in the dark alone with him? Who will help me then?
China has a different system from Taiwan. That way may work in their country, but it does not work in Taiwan. So if one speaks of one China there must be two political entities. There must be more communication and mutual trust.
In 1987, Taiwan's policy towards China began to relax. This was good for Taiwan. Ten million visitors from Taiwan have now been to mainland China. There is huge indirect trade and investment in mainland China. Thirty thousand Taiwanese businessmen have businesses in mainland China. Many of them even have second wives there.
After Hong Kong, China's next goal is to unify with Taiwan. We are curious to know what was the outcome of Jiang's visit. We pick up the message that China will continue confrontation, but peacefully. Hong Kong will be used as a model. And they will try to press the US to accept it. This is to prevent a repeat of the US action over the missile tests last year.
We cannot accept "One country two systems". Maybe a federal system is possible. But like the merger of East and West Germany, it will take many years. In 1991, a Cross-Straits organisation was set up to channel government-to-government communication. But after President Lee's visit to Cornell, the Chinese stopped this channel. So communication stopped. We have put forward the position that "One Country" might be acceptable if it were the Republic of China, not the People's Republic of China. Recently one senior Chinese official hinted that the "one China" was not necessarily the PRC. But this was swiftly contradicted by another official. So there is still no official communication. In the meantime, China tries to lobby our businessmen and get them to pressure the Taiwanese Government. But following the election victory of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan, the pressure is on Beijing to achieve a breakthrough. Of the 23 counties in Taiwan, the DPP won 12 against the KMT's 8. In fact, the KMT won only Matsu and the islands near the mainland, and the eastern part of Taiwan. Seventy percent of the population now has a DPP local government. The dominant issues in the election were quality of life, social order, and the environment - livelihood issues. People were tired of the KMT.
If the DPP got into power, China policy would probably remain the same for a time. A most recent public opinion poll showed that more than 80 percent of the Taiwanese people favour keeping Cross-Straits relations at the status quo. Support for independence has been rising a little in the polls, but people do not talk about it much because it is dangerous. And the DPP do not emphasise it for this reason. Although some say there is no need to talk of it because Taiwan is independent already. Some DPP members want to abolish the existing constitution and declare a Taiwan Republic. There should be more communication and exchanges between the two sides for consensus building. They should engage each other with good will and sincerity. This is our hope that the Koo-Wang talks, suspended since President Lee's visit to the US in 1995, will resume in spring next year. The talks can yield fruit, which is desirable to the public across the Straits.
The message must be put across to mainland China that they must be more tolerant or they will push Taiwan people into independence. A Chinese official hurt our feelings recently when he said that Taiwan could not host the IMF forum because Taiwan is not a country. But we have been one for 86 years, longer than the PRC.
Hong Kong can help here. Twenty years ago when I came to Hong Kong, the people were hostile to the Taiwanese. Especially to girls, who they thought were just looking for money and a husband. Now they see our politicians fighting on TV, and when they come to Taiwan they see our traffic, and the messy state of our cities. Taiwanese also have a limited view of Hong Kong. It is just a shopping centre to them, and now after the handover even that has gone. But Taiwan is actually a democratic model for Hong Kong. It is not perfect, but this is what you have to go through to achieve a proper democratic society. It is my job to help build better understanding between Hong Kong and Taiwanese people.
The above summary does not necessarily represent the views of the Hong Kong Democratic Foundation.