‘Three noes’ destroying the so-called ‘status quo’
By Paul Lin 林保華

As Typhoon Nanmadol threatened Taiwan, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had other things on his mind, such as what to do about Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文). He thought invoking the so-called “1992 consensus” could silence Tsai and the Taiwanese who oppose unification. Apart from banging on about how much he was engaged with the preparations for Nanmadol’s landfall — ignoring the more considerable contributions of others — he called on Tsai to comment on his “three noes” policy: “no unification, no independence and no use of force.”

Tsai need not bother answer his questions, because I can answer them for her. Ma’s “three noes” threaten the “status quo.” Not only do they fail to maintain it, they conspire to obliterate it and perhaps are already doing so.

Let’s look at “no unification” first. On June 10, 2009, Ma announced his intention to stand again for chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The following morning, he gave an interview with CommonWealth Magazine during which, according to an article that appeared in the Chinese state-sponsored media outlet China Review News (CRN) a week later, he singled out the “no unification” part of his three noes. CRN quoted him as saying that “no unification” did not necessarily preclude the option of unification. Apparently, even as he was taking up the post of KMT chairman, Ma was preparing to scrap “no unification.” Perhaps he was respecting the dying wish of his father, Ma Ho-ling (馬鶴凌), inscribed on the latter’s urn: “Replace independence with gradual unification.”

The next “no” is “no independence.” The Republic of China (ROC) was established in 1912. What is the president of the ROC doing declaring that he will not pursue independence? How much more damage can he do to the “status quo” in terms of Taiwanese autonomy and independence? And what of “one China, with each side having its own interpretation?” How does his interpretation differ from China’s? Who can blame Ma for ditching the title of president and the name of the country of which he is president, for “Mr Ma,” head of “Chinese Taipei?”

Finally, we move on to “no use of force.” After several years of KMT bluster following its arrival — having been booted out of China — during which it defiantly insisted that it would take the fight to the “Communist Mainland,” the KMT has been decidedly on the defensive. There was the 823 Artillery Bombardment of 1958, an attempt by China to take Taiwan and even now Taiwan’s armed forces concentrate on defense.

At the same time, China continues to expand its military and aims missiles at Taiwan. If anyone should be giving assurances of “no use of force” it should be China, and Ma should be demanding assurances to that effect. Instead, he promises “no force” of his own accord, with no sign of goodwill from China in response. His “no force” means dismantling the military and handing Taiwan to China.

Ma’s “no unification, no independence and no use of force” is a re-interpretation of the policy of resistance to the Western powers adopted in Guangzhou, China, by the viceroy of Liangguang Ye Mingchen (葉名琛) about 150 years ago. Ye promised “three nots,” namely that he would not fight, not make peace and not run away. He was captured by the British and exiled to India. By asking Taiwan to drop any resistance, Ma is consigning her to colonization by China.

Cross-strait consensus is possible, but it should be a consensus of peace, of mutual benefit. Independence advocate Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏) said the relationship should be fraternal and not the unequal, paternal one Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) and Ma would have.

Paul Lin is a media commentator.

Translated by Paul Cooper


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