Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 07:14 | SYDNEY
Sunday 22 Jul 2018 | 07:14 | SYDNEY

Reader riposte: One China, two parties


Sam Roggeveen


16 June 2008 15:44

Edwin Lowe replies to Malcolm Cook's post of last week:

Malcolm suggests that democratisation in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan may mean the end of the party-to-party relations paradigm in East Asian diplomacy. But I don’t see that paradigm changing anytime soon for cross-Strait relations. Why not? It is primarily because the entire nature of cross-Strait relations is predicated on the issues of sovereignty and legitimacy. Further woven through this dynamic is the historical legacy of the (unresolved) CPC and KMT civil war.

Although external commentators do see the two sides as being sovereign governments, the fact remains that the cornerstone of cross-Strait dialogue is that the PRC does not recognise the legitimacy and sovereignty of the ROC. In the PRC view, Taiwan itself remains a province beyond the authority of the CPC, but an integral sovereign territory of ‘China’.

Consider that all official PRC media coverage of high level KMT visits have been billed as party-to-party meetings. This acts to maintain the direct historical legacy of the two great contending parties of China, acting on an equal and legitimate footing as compatriots of the ‘one China’. In a culture where symbolism does in fact mean everything, the CPC/KMT meeting in 2007 saw the two party leaders wearing neckties bearing the party colours of the other side. The symbolism was not only unmistakeable, but to those attuned to such nuances, very exciting indeed. In fact, they just don’t get better than that!

The strategic annual meetings of the KMT and CPC between 2005 and 2007, a year before the Taiwan presidential election, re-affirmed the KMT’s pro-status quo stance and demonstrated to both the Taiwanese electorate and the CPC the KMT’s ability to work with the PRC. 

Finally, the official PRC media coverage itself is telling in the importance it gives the party-to party-diplomacy, in contrast to the semi-official ‘policy’ negotiations. While the coverage the semi-official policy meetings concluded before the weekend now appear to be ‘small news’ items, the earlier party-to-party meetings still command ‘special feature’ coverage.