The 1996 Consensus, an Idea Whose Time Has Finally Come!

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Saturday March 20, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

Although Taiwan's current President Ma Ying-jeou regularly repeats and revels in this 1992 fabrication, the time has come for all Taiwanese to once and for all dump the hypocrisy of the "1992 Consensus." The so-called consensus of 1992 is a fraud, a deception, a duplicitous trick formulated by Su Chi. Allegedly the purpose was to facilitate cross-strait talks, but even then the People's Republic of China (PRC) never even publicly agreed to it. Further, the talks that were being "facilitated" at that time were not nation to nation talks, but rather they were party to party talks between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). What was really happening was that both parties were trying to find a way to maintain the legitimacy of their roots, and claim that there was only "one China" and each of course represented it. That idea must be scrapped.

The real consensus that Taiwanese should acknowledge is what came four years later when the nation took part in Taiwan's first presidential election of the people, by the people and for the people. This is the gist of the recent effort by former vice-president Annette Lu and other politicos in establishing the 1996 Consensus Promotion Alliance. This alliance spells out and specifies agreement of all parties in Taiwan as to what is the basis of Taiwan's nationhood and hence its national identity.

Taiwan does have an identity problem. The blue and the green parties have conflicting interpretations of what its identity is. Many Taiwanese themselves are struggling with the idea of what it means to be Taiwanese. As they struggle, one thing they all can and should agree on is that Taiwan is a democratic nation. It is a democratic nation in which the people not only can but have consistently and freely elected their president from 1996 on. If any political candidates cannot accept the reality of this statement, they should be drummed out of office and rejected by the people.

Taiwanese must realize that for too long outsiders have been imposing their thoughts on Taiwan. The United States in its official policy claims that the status of Taiwan is "undetermined." Undetermined by whom? The people of Taiwan already do determine their president and their future. The PRC of course also wants to get in on the act and claim that they have the right to determine Taiwan's future. These are the issues, the United States does not want to admit it, and the PRC wants to take away Taiwan's democracy.

One can be blue, one can be green, and one can have his or her own ideas on where the nation should go, but all, yes all should agree that whatever direction and path the nation chooses, that choice is the responsibility and right of the Taiwanese people and no one else. To hold anything else would be treason. That may sound strict, but it is the line that should and must be drawn and all politicians should be held accountable to it. It is even stronger than the idea that high office holders should not have dual citizenship. It may seem strange that Taiwanese had never directly formulated the belief in a 1996 consensus before, for the idea of the right and responsibility of self-determination is so simple and basic to any democratic country's existence that it should be made part of its Constitution or Bill of Citizen's Rights. Regardless of that, Taiwanese should wait no longer; this is an idea whose time and need for expression has finally come. Let all Taiwanese act.