A guest post from Jerome Keating.
Inane Flap Over an Outdated and Inept National Unification Council
Some called it a bombshell but it was only the bursting of a bubble. Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian has recently caused quite a stir among the biased and uninformed by proposing to abolish the country’s ineffective National Unification Council (NUC). The continued flap over the NUC and its guidelines highlights that most people know nothing about this outdated and ineffective organization, how the guidelines themselves contradict reality, and how the council comes from an era when the Kuomintang (KMT) wished to substitute its personal agenda for that of the people of Taiwan.
Formed back in 1990 (six years before Taiwan’s people were allowed to directly elect their President) the NUC represents a last ditch effort by the KMT to explain and justify its continued forty plus years of martial law and one-party state rule i.e. their alleged purpose all along was democracy. The council adopted the present guidelines at its third meeting on February 23, 1991.
First examine this; the Pan-blue dominated Legislature in typical hypocritical fashion cries at how President Chen does not have the best interests of the people in mind. That same Pan-blue Legislature had just cut the annual budget of the NUC to a mere US thirty-two dollars—barely enough to pay to install a phone or get fax paper for less than a month. This is more than a slap in the face to the NUC, it confirms that even the Pan-blues consider the NUC useless but it further insults the people of Taiwan.
The same Pan-blue Legislature has similarly rendered the Control Yuan (one of the five major agencies of the government) ineffective for over a year by not acting on approving its members and by not giving a justifiable explanation. These actions do not have the best interests of the people in mind. They smack of a Legislative Yuan attempting to hi-jack the government and doing anything to insult its president by paralyzing the country.
The NUC issue involves democracy and the mis-interpreted nomenclature of independence. As I had stated in earlier writings, if the people are for a democracy and have a democracy, they already are independent.
Taiwan has that democracy and that independence. To unify with a country of its choice is certainly one of its options. Another option is that it remain free and independent. When a political party insists that unification is the only option as does the KMT and the other Pan-blue parties, they deny Taiwan its democracy.
While the Pan-blues are trying to hi-jack Taiwan for their ends, the goal of the NUC ironically was to establish a democratic, free, and equitably prosperous China. This is a noble goal for China of which the KMT are waishengren on Taiwan, but it rests on a false and unproved premise stated in the guidelines, “Unification . . . is the common wish of Chinese people at home and abroad.” The Taiwanese people were never consulted or even given a vote in the formulation of this premise.
Besides the false premise of the guidelines, there is much more illustrating why they should be scrapped. The terms of the process for unification stated in the guidelines have been continually violated by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
A few examples suffice. Both sides of the Taiwan Strait should “establish a mutually benign relationship by not endangering each other’s security and stability.” “Democracy and the rule of law” should be present in both the PRC and the KMT. “Both sides of the Strait should work together and assist each other in taking part in international organizations and activities.” With over 700 missiles pointed at Taiwan, a total lack of democracy in the PRC, and the PRC’s continued efforts to keep Taiwan from participating in the WHO, ASEAN, the UN etc. there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the NUC is a one-sided dream fostered by the KMT. It is a dream that is totally disassociated from the reality of life on the Taiwan Strait and a dream which serves only to fog over the reality of how the KMT reluctantly relinquished its martial law and one-party state.
Adding to the flames of hypocrisy stemming from the period of the 1991 formulation of the NUC, KMT Legislator Su Chi then chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council under the KMT has just admitted that he deceived the public. In 1992 he stated that there was a “consensus on one China.” This deception, formulated by him and perpetuated by the KMT has for the past decade and more been used to deceive not only the people of Taiwan but also the USA.
Despite all this, Chairman Ma of the KMT in typical doublespeak states that there is a “symbolic meaning” in the NUC which links to the KMT’s avowed goal of unification. Ma further feels that Chen’s act of abolishing the NUC instead of trying to set the record straight would do harm to Taiwan-US and Taiwan-China relations. How facing the truth of the past does harm to mis-represented present relations is something Ma seems to specialize in. As for its symbolic meaning, Ma is clearly stating “You were duped, learn to enjoy it.”
(This topic is also being vigorously discussed in the Duck Pond.)
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.