Sunday, May 22, 2016

Nelson Report on Tsai Ing-wen's speech and Beijing's reaction

From the Nelson Report. Note Nelson's own remarks at the bottom...


TAIWAN/US/CHINA POLITICS...we sent out for breakfast reading Pres. Tsai Ing-wen's much anticipated Inaugural Address, and "reviews" so far are largely positive, if not from Beijing, despite Pres. Tsai's obvious effort in Xi Jinping's direction.
We solicited Loyal Reader opinions with our comment that we were surprised by her detailed discussion of "1992 consensus" issues, and wondered if that would be sufficient to placate Xi, if only for the nonce.
If you recall last year's Tsai speech at CSIS, she was asked about "1992" by former AIT official and Loyal Reader David Brown, and chose to answer via a discussion of the Taiwan Constitution and laws already passed which left many non-experts in the dark. So today, she expanded considerably.
Some Loyal Reader responses:
Comments on 1992 are same as she said in the Liberty Times interview. What is new is the paragraph that cites the Act that governs relations between the Taiwan area and the Mainland area.
EDITORS' NOTE: a Tsai associate made the same point!
She will catch hell from the dark greenies and the NPP for inclusion of "Taiwan area and Mainland area" - such are the problems of democracy!
DON ZAGORIA, NCUSFP, also caught it:
By citing the Act in the ROC Constitution that governs relations between the Taiwan area and theMainland area, Tsai istaking a big step towards accepting the ROC Constitutionas a "one China" constitution, something Ma Ying-jeou has long accepted and the DPP has not.
It also lays the groundwork for  a de facto agreement between the two sideson a "constitutional One China," something that some in the DPP have long advocated.
ANON involved USG:
"Essentially, the first test is passed - the speech met U.S. expectations; no surprises, no provocations.  I saw Bonnie Glaser quoted in the news this morning that resonated with me, essentially that the speech was vague enough to leave it up to everyone's imagination and enable the listener to choose what they want to hear.  She assumes Beijing will choose to hear the worst."
ANON close to Pres. Tsai:
I actually am a bit less pessimistic about Beijing's reaction being "choose to hear the worst."  The TAO has to be fairly hard line, but even they focused on "not a passing grade" and the issue of "Taiwan independence." I personally think Tsai stretched as far as possible without breaking the link to the "will of the Taiwanese people."
She is one smart negotiator...see her inclusion of " will conduct cross-Strait affairs in accordance with the Republic of China Constitution, the Act Governing Relations Between the People of Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, and other relevant legislation." That moves somewhat in China's direction but obviously not enough for them. The Chinese rant re "Taiwan independence" is harsh enough, but she doesn't use that language.
Chris et al,
I assume you have all seen Beijing's response:
Tsai did not clearly recognize the "1992 consensus" nor agree to its core meaning, and she did not propose concrete ways to guarantee the stable and peaceful development of the cross-strait relationship.
"On the fundamental question of the nature of cross-strait relations that people on the two sides of the strait are most concerned about, (Tsai) adopted a murky attitude," the statement said. "This is an incomplete test paper," it said of her speech.

Clearly Xi still wants to force her to cry "uncle." Beijing could easily called it "a positive but insufficient step forward." I hope USG praises her remarks!

FRANK JANUZZI, Mansfield Foundation:

I have a slightly more optimistic take on China's "incomplete grade" evaluation. I think the "incomplete" verbiage is not a particularly hostile response to Tsai's words. In fact, Beijing is acknowledging that she has taken a step in their direction, while noting that she has not done all that Beijing wishes.  An incomplete is better than an F, but it is not as good as the P (in pass/fail) that Tsai is Simon for.   
I strongly agree that the US should praise Tsai's remarks as constructive, pragmatic, and in the interest of maintenance of peace and stability across the Strait.
My Taiwan friends seem encouraged by Beijing's "incomplete" grade, and so I wonder if we are being too swift to spot trouble.
EVANS REVERE, former State PDAS/Powell-Armitage:
I fully agree with Ralph and Don Z.  President Tsai went as far as she could in the speech and gave the PRC something that it could hang its hat on in terms of a de facto acceptance of "one China" under the ROC constitution and her positive remarks on the Act governing relations across the Strait. 
She also made a point of acknowledging the understandings reached in '92 and not denying or undermining them.  Doing that in her inaugural address is important, since she is now speaking as president, not a candidate.   That's as good as the Mainland is likely to get from her and Beijing should find a way of agreeing, however grudgingly, to proceed on this basis.
BOB MANNING Atlantic Council: 
Agree with Ralph. Her careful threading the needle of stressing 1992, continuity, and status quo w/o saying "consensus" and kowtowing was not good enough? Xi's is asking for trouble.I thought within her political parameters, she went out of her way to try to message Beijing that she gets it and has no intention of undoing the status quo.

They clearly wanted a full kowtow. I suspect her language about diversifying economic relations also ticked them off.

"We will also work to maintain the existing mechanisms for dialogue and communication across the Taiwan Strait. In 1992, the two institutions representing each side across the Strait (SEF & ARATS), through communication and negotiations, arrived at various joint acknowledgements and understandings. It was done in a spirit of mutual understanding and a political attitude of seeking common ground while setting aside differences. I respect this historical fact. Since 1992, over twenty years of interactions and negotiations across the Strait have enabled and accumulated outcomes which both sides must collectively cherish and sustain; and it is based on such existing realities and political foundations that the stable and peaceful development of the cross-Strait relationship must be continuously promoted. The new government will conduct cross-Strait affairs in accordance with the Republic of China Constitution, the Act Governing Relations Between the People of Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, and other relevant legislation. The two governing parties across the Strait must set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides.

By existing political foundations, I refer to a number of key elements. The first element is the fact of the 1992 talks between the two institutions representing each side across the Strait (SEF & ARATS), when there was joint acknowledgement of setting aside differences to seek common ground. This is a historical fact. The second element is the existing Republic of China constitutional order. The third element pertains to the outcomes of over twenty years of negotiations and interactions across the Strait."

: about the official US delegation to the Inauguration...

With the conspicuous exception of participant and hugely-respected Asia hand/China-Taiwan specialist Alan Romberg, a former NSC and St. Dept. spokesman, naming as head of delegation the tired political hack and without question, weakest USTR in the history of that important job, Ron Kirk, is difficult to see as anything but a continued hedge against a DPP government on Taiwan.
Yes, of course two AIT officials were included, the very highly respected Ray Burghardt and Kin Moy, but how could they not have been? It's their job to attend the inauguration!
Of course we accept it would have not been prudent to have heeded calls to send Vice President Biden, or Secretaries Kerry or Carter. (See our trashing last night of the dangerously naive OpEd in the Washington Post yesterday by an AEI analyst!) But no currently serving US Government official of any rank except the "unofficial" AIT!?
So we asked, and were not entirely surprised to hear that our suspicions were correct, and that "memory of the difficulties under the previous DPP government remain".
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!


Anonymous said...

I wonder how US will behave when Taiwan people retire KMT and New Power Party become 2nd largest party in Taiwan. 8 more years and Taiwan will lean even more to de jure independence.

Do US even have contingency plan for that kind of scenario?

Taiwanjunkie said...

Tsai did well. China, KMT, and the typical deep blue pundits are not happy, but she did not provide any space for them to maneuver except to complaint.

Of course for the hard core independent advocates we don't like to hear the words "Taiwan area and Mainland area" but we understand the need for slow and gradual transition to full independence in the shadow of an overgrown bully.