A Taipei City councilor from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the KMT Culture and Communications Committee deputy director have accused the Presidential Office’s Web site of distorting the national flag in a way that does not conform to the proportions specified in the National Emblem and National Flag of the Republic of China Act (中華民國國徽國旗法).
They have gone so far as to report President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and others to the Control Yuan for the supposed infringement.
The Presidential Office said the complaint is a waste of public resources.
Why do these people complain only about the proportions of the national flag, but not about whether the flag can be flown in the nation or be raised at international events?
In addition, the question of whether everyone wants a national flag derived from the KMT emblem is not a matter of concern for them.
This reflects the peculiar mindset of certain people in the KMT. Apparently, “KMT reactionaries” did not only exist 90 years ago — Taiwan now has another kind of “KMT reactionary”: The difference is that today’s reactionaries are friends of the Chinese Communist Party.
China’s Xinhua news agency recently issued its latest terminology guidelines, according to which only the so-called “1992 consensus” can be used, not “one China, with each side having its own interpretation.”
Any mention of the Republic of China (ROC) is forbidden, as are its Republican calendar and national flag, emblem and anthem.
Considering KMT supporters’ claim that the ROC’s sovereignty covers the whole of China, one might expect them to complain when Beijing bans any mention of the ROC, but hardly a peep has been heard from them.
Where is the logic in that? If there is no nation, how can there be a national flag?
They do not seem to care if the ROC is erased, but would rather keep fussing about the proportions of the national flag.
In Taiwan, they defend the ROC, but when dealing with China they are prepared to shelve the ROC. So how does the ROC relate to Taiwan in their view?
Such attitudes might become clearer when viewed from Beijing’s perspective.
With regard to “one China, with each side having its own interpretation,” KMT chairman-elect Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) is following the line set by former president and KMT chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Now that former KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) has stepped down, China is keeping an eye on Wu’s words and actions, and it is watching whether the KMT undergoes another wave of localization.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Tuesday last week delivered a speech to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, saying: “We absolutely will not permit any person, any organization, any political party — at any time, in any form — to separate any piece of Chinese territory from China.”
It is hard to avoid the impression that Xi’s mention of “any political party ... in any form” alludes to the KMT and those within the party who are inclined toward Taiwanese independence.
If the KMT hopes to return to government, should it follow mainstream public opinion or align itself with Beijing? The answer should be obvious.
China’s official media seem to be warning that Wu’s tendency to talk less about the “one China” principle and both sides of the Taiwan Strait belonging to “one China,” while repeatedly saying things to the effect of “you interpret things your way and we will interpret them ours,” is making him sound similar to Tsai on cross-strait relations.
In his reply to Xi’s message congratulating him on his election as KMT chairman, Wu said that the KMT and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 1992 reached a consensus that “the two sides of the Taiwan Strait both uphold a ‘one China’ policy, but, regarding its implications, the two sides agree to express it in their own ways by means of spoken statements.”
Wu’s choice of words has made Beijing suspicious about his intentions.
This is the KMT’s dilemma: If it complies with public opinion in Taiwan, it cannot comply with what China wants, and vice versa.
The KMT’s electoral defeats last year came as a revelation, showing that if it goes on allying itself with the CCP to control Taiwan, it must be prepared to stay in opposition for a long time and even dwindle into a minor party.
Wu’s dilemma is similar to the one Tsai faces with her policy of “maintaining the status quo.”
“The existing ROC constitutional order,” which Tsai talked about in her inaugural address, is, tied up with the “one China” principle and a framework left over from the Chinese Civil War.
After more than a year of Tsai’s administration, China has lost patience even with the KMT’s “one China, with separate interpretations.”
Still less does it believe that “maintaining the status quo,” coming from someone they define as supporting Taiwanese independence, can mean maintaining the “status quo” that existed under Ma, with his aim of eventual unification.
Beijing is shifting the “status quo” and doing everything it can to turn the Taiwan question into a matter of Chinese domestic policy in the eyes of the international community.
Tsai is stuck with her promise to the world community to “maintain the status quo,” otherwise she would risk being branded a “troublemaker” as happened to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
At this time, when China is trying harder than ever to outflank Taiwan and penetrate it with its united front strategy, Tsai seems unable to escape her self-imposed bonds and cannot avoid coming under pressure from mainstream public opinion.
Xi’s speech made a broad sweep with its six categories of “any.” With this all-inclusive approach, Xi has ironed out most of Taiwan’s internal political differences.
This is a signal that China has moved on from a divisive strategy to regarding the whole of Taiwan as its enemy. The cross-strait stalemate is even more rigid than before and that should be a catalyst for internal reconciliation in Taiwan.
Reforms should prioritize quickly escaping from the spiral of internal strife.
As cross-strait contrasts sharpen, Xi no longer envisions a consensus between the KMT and the CCP, or one between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the CCP. Rather, his main aim is to annex Taiwan.
Under this new normality, seeking consensus between the KMT and the DPP, or even a broader Taiwanese consensus, is necessary to jointly resist external challenges.
Without it, the nation’s political parties can say good-bye to any democratic competition.
Tsai, whose party controls the executive and legislative branches of government, and Wu, whose party is in opposition, would do well to make the pursuit of a Taiwanese consensus the theme for dialogue between the two parties.
They could then expand it into a social dialogue that puts them in tune with what the public wants, and take action to reorganize the nation.
The more Taiwan is squeezed, the more it needs internal dialogue.
This would be a fine moment for humdrum politicians to redefine themselves as great ones.
Translated by Julian Clegg