STEWART SCHWAB: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to Cornell Law School and this 2008-09 Clarke Lecture. I am Stewart Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean of Cornell Law School. And today, it's my pleasure to welcome one of our own graduates, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen-- LLM 1980-- back to campus, to deliver this year's distinguished Clarke Lecture.
The Clarke Lecture is one of the signature events of the Jack G. Clarke Program, in East Asian law and culture, here at Cornell Law School. Let me take a moment to thank Professor Annelise Riles, director of the Clarke program, for her wonderful leadership and vision for the program, as well as her assistants, Laurie Roberts and Donna Hastings for all of their hard work to make the program, in general, a success and this event, in particular. So thank you, Annelise.
The Clarke Lecture in East Asian law and culture is the only named lecture in the United States devoted specifically to Asian legal issues. Each year, the Clarke program brings a high profile scholar to Cornell to deliver a major public lecture. While at Clarke-- Cornell, the Clarke lecturer also meets informally with faculty and students from across the university. Previous lecturers and participants have included some of this country's most eminent experts on Asian law, as well as well known scholars from Asia.
The Clarke program's mission is to foster academic collaboration across disciplines, across cultures, and between established scholars and innovative young researchers and students, to address new questions and to shed new light on enduring subjects of pressing contemporary concern. Dr. Tsai Ing-wen is especially well positioned to bring light on issues of contemporary concern.
She is currently the chairperson of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party. Previously, she was Vice Premier and a legislature in Taiwan. She's also been a business leader, a chairperson and founder of Taimed Biologics. She's an expert on international trade. Tsai Ing-wen has served on many key councils and commissions in Taiwan, including national policy advisor to the President, chairperson of the Mainland Affairs Council, senior advisor of the National Security Council, commissioner on the Fair Trade Commission and the International Trade Commission, and I could go on and on.
She received her PhD from the London School of Economics, in Political Science after receiving a law degree from the National Taiwan University. She's been a professor of law at the national Chengchi University and the graduate law school of Soochow University. But the part of her impressive resume that we like to highlight and perhaps spend a bit-- just a bit more moment on was the time spent here at Cornell Law School, where she received her LLM degree in 1980.
Dr. Tsai arrived in Ithaca just-- almost exactly 30 years ago, last month, as a young student, initially planning to be here just one year but showing great judgment and love for Cornell--
--she stayed on an additional year. And we'd like to think that it is those years of study at Cornell which is what launched her on this impressive and important career since. Please, join me in welcoming Dr. Tsai Ing-wen back to Cornell, as the distinguished 2008-09 Clarke lecturer.
TSAI ING-WEN: Well, thank you very much for that great opening and great introduction. And you mentioned that I was here as a young student, about 28 or 30 years ago. The reason why I decided to accept this invitation to deliver a speech here is because I thought, it's almost 30 years when I was first here at Cornell Law School.
When I was a student here, there was one day I was standing outside of the law school, looking at the school. And then standing next to me was an old lady. And she told me that 40 years ago, she was a student at Cornell Law School.
And I told myself that, I have to come back to Cornell within a time that is shorter than 40 years.
So here I am. And I'm supposed to deliver a speech on what is the most sensitive issue in Asia, which is an issue that is very relevant to my past job as the chair of the Mainland Affairs Council and my current job as the chairperson of the Social Democratic Party. And I'm sure people in this room know this cross-straight relationship a lot.
And this has been the most exciting, actually, issue in that part of the world. And some of the issues, I have never experienced I [INAUDIBLE] the [? world. ?] And the resolution of this problem requires a lot of wisdom, thinking, and efforts of all of the parties concerned.
But let me get the settings for the issues that we're about to address in the speech. When the commentators and observers talk about Taiwan, they use such terms as one of the flash points in Asia and sometimes, a landmine. Nevertheless, Taiwan is still regarded by many as one of the success stories in Asia, in its effort to develop a functional democracy and a free and open society.
In trade and economic terms, according to the World Trade Organization's latest statistics, in 1980-- in 2008, Taiwan is the 16th largest trading nation and has transformed from one of the four Asian dragons-- that is, developing economies, in the later part of the last century-- to a newly developed economy, in this century. Taiwan is considered by the WTO members as a model economy for its openness and commitment to free trade, as reflected in its WTO accession commitments.
Despite its success in its economic and social democratic developments, Taiwan is not without its own problems. The transition towards a more advanced and competitive economy requires very substantial structural reforms. And this already very difficult task is made even more difficult by the scale and speed of economic globalization, which makes the world competition much keener. And of course, the emergence of China as an economic competitor for investments and markets make the task even more difficult.
The scale and timeframe within which the reforms have to be carried out posed an unprecedented challenge. Politics in Taiwan, as a tradition democracy, is particularly difficult because the rules of the game have neither being fully established nor updated. And the players are not entirely experienced with function in a democratic setting.
Political parties fight on almost every policy issues, not entirely based on merit. The governmental structure, which was built according to a constitution made in the 1940s for governing the whole of China, has proven a burden and at a cost to government efficiency.
Taiwan's population, many consists of immigrants from mainland China. That is, the PRC today and their descendants. Earlier settlers and latecomers, together with the Aborigines, have formed different ethnic groups in Taiwan. Today, Taiwan has four main ethnic groups.
Oh. That doesn't count it as one. The four ethnic groups. First one, of course, is the Aborigines. And the second one is what we call Holo. And that is a native Taiwanese who moved to Taiwan earlier. Then the later group is called Hakka. And then we have the fourth group that is the mainlanders, meaning the group of people who moved to Taiwan after 1949. That is, around the time of Chinese Civil War.
And there's a new wave of immigrants from China after the cross-strait openings in the late 1980s. These new immigrants are men-- mainly the newly wedded spouses or relatives of Taiwanese citizens. The number of such immigrants has become quite substantial and increases by about 30,000 a year.
In a democratic process, particularly during elections, the ethnic divide has been magnified and transformed into political division. It is interesting to note that against the ethnic and political divide, there is a growing sense of Taiwaneseness, which is characterized by some as Taiwan identity.
In a recently conducted pole by a television station, 80% of the respondents identify themselves as Taiwanese. And only 18% of the respondents consider themselves as Chinese. By age group, 78-- 76% of those polled in the 20 to 29 age group identify themselves as Taiwanese, which is the highest.
In a separate poll, consecutively conducted by the DPP-- that is, Democratic Progressive Party-- over the last decade, the age group with the most significant increase is 20 to 29 years old, where only 30% identify themselves as Taiwanese back in 1995. But in 2008, 79% of them identify themselves as Taiwanese. That is a 49% increase.
The question, then, is whether and to what extent the collective sense of Taiwaneseness would help to narrow down the ethnic and political divide. The growing sense of Taiwaneseness has changed expectations of the people in Taiwan. Particularly, they want a more distinct and meaningful status in Taiwan's international and cross-strait dealings.
It is most unfortunate that China has been quite insensitive to this rather natural development as Taiwan becomes more democratic and open. Taiwan's relationship with China, today, is not simply a bilateral matter between the two. It is already part of the regional and global economics and politics.
And it's much influenced by elements that are beyond the cross-strait. China's position on Taiwan is largely a product of Chinese nationalism and hatch money, regional and global strategic calculation, domestic political power struggle and balancing, and the need to sustain the legitimacy of the communist dominant laws.
People of Taiwan, on the other hand, have a rather complex feeling towards China. Most of them are either immigrants or they're descendants from mainland China and therefore, culturally and ethnically Chinese. But they do not like Beijing's claim of supremacy over Taiwan.
Likewise, Taiwanese people would like to explore business opportunities in China. They are, however, concerned that they may be out competed by their Chinese counterparts after years of investment in China.
China, in the views of most of-- most, if not all, of Taiwanese people, is a business partner and a competitor, as well. And increasingly a competitor, as China further develops its economy. It is also like a member of the family, a close relative or simply a neighbor, depending on the individual's perception of Tai-- of China. But incessantly, seeking political dominance over Taiwan with military [? strat-- ?]
Given these complex feelings toward China and internal political divide, cross-strait relationship has been the most difficult and contentious policy area for the successive governments of Taiwan. Particularly, for the first DPP demonstration after more than 50 years of rule by the Nationalist Party since it's retreat from the mainland China in 1949.
Now, I want to talk a bit about cross-strait politics since 1949. The cross-strait political development, since the end of the war, has evolved around the following issues-- the territorial sovereignty over Taiwan, representation of China, definition of One China, and maintenance of the so-called status quo.
Of course, the focus changes from one issue to another at different stages. What are the key elements of these issues? First, the territorial sovereignty over Taiwan. Taiwan was successively colonized by the Dutch. This is from 1924 to-- sorry. From 1624 to 1662. And the Chinese pirate of Zheng Zhilong family. That is from 1612 to 1683. And the Qing dynasty from 8-- 1683 to 1894. And the Japanese imperial government. That is, from 1894 to 1945.
At the end of the World War II, the supreme commander of LI command in the Pacific authorized the national government of China to accept the surrender of Taiwan from the Japanese. On October 25, 1949, the Japanese forces in Taiwan surrendered to the gen-- to General Chiang Kai-shek.
With the consent of the supreme allied commander in the Far East, the nationalist government-- that is, the KMT-- was in power to temporary military occupation of Taiwan. The KMT then declared, in 1949, that Taiwan was a province of the Republic of China. This is so, although some legal experts argue that territorial sovereignty over Taiwan is still a legally unsettled issue.
The Chinese Civil War brought to Taiwan, in 1949, the ROC government, which was then controlled by the nationalist government. That is, the KMT. At the same time, the Chinese Communists, after taking firm control of the Chinese mainland, established a new People's Republic of China. That is, PRC.
From then on, both sides competed for the right to represent China in the United Nations and other international contexts. The turning point was the 1971 UN decision to quote, "restore all of its rights to the People's Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representative of the United Nations," unquote.
Since then, many countries shifted their diplomatic recognition from the ROC to the PRC. Some countries, in establishing diplomatic ties with the PRC, asserted its position that there's one China and the government of the PRC is the sole legitimate government of China. And Taiwan is part of China, while others, like the United States, [INAUDIBLE] acknowledge that position.
Despite the UN decision, the ROC government continued to hold the position that is the sole legitimate government of China until the 1990s, when it started a whole serious effort to seek fresh participation in the United Nations. The battle between the two sides in the 1990s, then, centers on the definition of One China.
The PRC continued to hold its position on the One China principle. That is, as I said, there's only one China. Taiwan is part of China. And the PRC is the sole legitimate government of that.
The intention is clear. That is, the PRC has consistently wanted to make One China the equivalent of sovereign state of China and view Taiwan as part of China. And therefore, Taiwan is legally subjected to the sovereignty exercise by the PRC, whereas the successive governments in Taiwan-- both KMT and DPP, alike-- had been insisting that they are actually two separate sovereignties. It [? can ?] be ROC versus PRC or Taiwan versus China, not subjected-- these two sovereignties not subjected to each other nor recognizing each other, with or without accepting the One China principle.
One China, from Taiwan's perspective, could be an option for the future. And for the time being, it should, at most, be a political idea rather than a legal concept with sovereign input.
China is worried that Taiwan may, in its view, move from de facto independence to de jure, independence by formally declaring independence or taking other measures that may have similar effects. Political developments in Taiwan, including efforts made to strengthen the democratic system and institutions in Taiwan through constitutional reform or legislative changes, have been closely watched by China. China wants to make sure that there are not quote, "steps toward de jure independence," unquote.
And then China proceeded [INAUDIBLE] with its enactment of the antisecession law toward Taiwan in the year 2005. The law was much criticized by the international community, as it contemplates use of nonpeaceful means against Taiwan, an idea that runs counter to the general expectations that cross-strait issues should be resolved in a peaceful manner.
The international community's response to the possible legislative move by Taiwan at the enactment of the antisecession law is that there should be no international change to the status quo. And this position seems to be accepted by both sides of the Taiwan Strait. There is, however, neither a political nor a legal definition of status quo that is accepted by all of the parties concerned.
Now, at this juncture, all of the parties involved have priorities other than final resolution of the cross-strait problems. All agree that peace and stability serve the best interests of all of the parties-- at least, for the short-term.
Therefore, maintaining the status quo seems to be the consensus. But what is status quo? Can each party have its own interpretation?
How big can the difference be? How can the status quo be maintained in a fast changing environment? And for how long?
My sense is that it will not be easy for all of the interested parties to sit down and to define what the status quo is, given the differences in their respective agendas and their domestic political situations. What may be achievable is to create a dynamic framework for all of the interested parties to engage in dialog and to maintain a balance of interests for all of the parties.
What, then, are the factors that would affect the balance of the interests and therefore, maintenance of status quo for years to come? Possible factors include intensification of competition for dominance in Asia by the major powers. That includes China and the United States. Possible trade and economic conflicts among the major players. Again, that may involve the US and China. And China's continuing military build-up.
China's domestic change. Taiwan's domestic political change. And changes in US global agendas. These are all of the factors that may affect the relationship and the status quo.
We have seen how the factors interplay in the cross-strait in the last few years. And I'm sure there will be more of this in the future.
With this background, I want to explore possible policy choices for the major parties involved in the cross-strait, primarily Taiwan, China, and the United States. Now, for the US, the US may opt to broker the emergence of an agreed framework that locks in the cross-strait status quo for a certain period of time, putting aside the issue of ultimate resolution, particularly on the sovereignty issue, and focusing on the development of confidence building dialog.
Alternatively, with democratization in Taiwan and military build-up along the Taiwan Strait, the US may consider a more fundamental change in US policy, which means the One China approach is to be replaced by a policy that recognizes the "reality" of Taiwan's independence and relies on military deterrence to prevent a rising China from reacting forcibly to such a change. If the US and international community decide to maintain status quo and defer the final resolution to the future, they should consider the following.
First, militarily, they should ensure that the military capabilities of both sides are balanced. Economically, they should help Taiwan to integrate into the regional economy and develop closer economic ties with Taiwan by, for instance, forming free trade arrangements.
Politically, Taiwan should be provided with opportunities to make its voice heard and engage in meaningful and substantive discussions, as well as communications with members of the international community in different forums.
In a cross-strait process, the international community has to insist that any resolution of the cross-strait problem should be consistent with the universal rules of peaceful settlement-- free will and no coercion, and the right of Taiwanese people to make decisions for themselves. In international organizations and events, decisions on Taiwan's participation have to be made on the basis of merit. Political considerations, if any, have to be balanced by Taiwan's right to participate and to make known its intentions in course.
Now, for China, if China is serious about peaceful rise and "achieving a moderately affluent society by 2020," a long-term peaceful and stable cross-strait relationship is essential. This will require major efforts, on the part of China, to reassess its cross-strait attitude and strategies.
Here are some suggestions for China. First, China needs to be prepared to deal with the cross-strait issues according to the universal rules of the game and with due regard to the common values of modern society, such as peaceful and negotiated settlement of this [INAUDIBLE]-- equality and equity; mutual accommodation and respect; exercise of free will without coercion; democracy; and basic human rights.
Now, nationalism in China. Nationalism is not necessarily a bad idea if it is geared toward building a sense of community among people who have shared values and common objectives. It would be unconstructive if it is used to suppress the free will and free choice of other people.
If China finds nationalism helpful for its domestic purposes, it has to make sure that the Chinese idea of nationalism is consistent with its responsibility toward the region, common values of modern society, and international rules for peace. China's diplomacy should be based on its responsibility toward the region. Cross-strait peace is part of that responsibility. It is not something the world has paid for with isolating or undermined Taiwan as the price.
Now, for Taiwan, the choices include rapid move toward Taiwan's independence before China becomes a real superpower-- or strike a deal on the final resolution of the cross-strait problems while Taiwan, with the help of the international community, still has the negotiating leverage-- or maintaining status quo until the time is right for making decisions. And these are the possible choices.
The poll results show that the majority of the population in Taiwan favors maintaining status quo, [? while ?] there is a growing preference for ultimate independence. If status quo is the preference-- at least, for the moment-- Taiwan should do the following to improve its position, so as to ensure that all of the options for the future of Taiwan would be left open and people of Taiwan have the right to make their own decisions.
One-- Taiwan has to carry out various domestic reforms to improve the efficiency of its public sector, to make its economy more competitive, to strengthen its defense capability, and to further consolidate its democracy, so as to make itself a meaningful party in the cross-strait process. Taiwan also has to improve its domestic political process and build an efficient mechanism and culture for generating consensus on critical issues such as the cross-strait.
The Taiwan government and people should be more involved in global debate on essential issues such as climate change, energy, and resource management. Taiwan's own domestic political [? debate ?] would need to synchronize with what is going on in the world and to continue with meaningful dialog, to stay ahead of policy debates and to remain relevant to the international community.
Taiwan needs to integrate its regional economics by expanding trade and investment with other economies, in order to balance the overconcentration of its investment in China. This would also help make Taiwan a more significant and confident player in the region.
Taiwan has to broaden its perspective and focus more on Asia. Taiwan, being part of Asia, has an interest in the region's security and prosperity. Just as Asia, as a whole, has a state in the cross-strait peace and stability. If Taiwan continues to prosper and actively participates in the regional process, there's no reason why Taiwan should have so much anxiety over the rise of China and to have to-- and to have to ask itself, from time to time, the question of whether time is on its side.
In conclusion, I would like to say the following. Cross-strait relations, today, are such a complexity that no one can say, for sure, what it will like-- what it will be like 20 years from now. The relations would be affected by a whole set of factors, such as the future of China and its economic, social, political reforms-- the different objectives of the major players in the Asian Pacific region-- and Taiwan's effort to make itself relevant in the international development. And these are all relevant factors for the future.
The different players may have different agendas. The consensus is clear. That is, peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait serve the best interests of all of the parties concerned.
However, these simple objectives require a great deal of efforts, determinations, and constant attention by the major players to maintain a constant balance of interests. This, coupled with the major changes that are about to happen in Asia, is a particularly challenging task for all of the stakeholders. It is exactly this challenge that makes life in that part of the world particularly interesting for all who care.
At the end, I would like to share a story of mine with you. When I first came to Cornell to study at the law school, almost, as I said, 30 years ago, Professor Barcelo, who was a much, much younger professor then--
Sorry about that. Professor Barcelo then, was the international student advisor. In my first encounter with him, he asked me the following question. That is, what is Taiwan going to do with China?
At that time, I had just arrived, as a student who had received education in KMT-controlled Taiwan and fully followed the nationalist ideology. So my answer, then, is one that is standard, book taught, and well trained. That is, of course, at the end of the day, we would unify China? That was the response I gave him then.
I guess, the Cornell education and my subsequent education at the London School of Economics have changed my thinking.
[INAUDIBLE]. And the result of such thinking is reflected in my speech today. Now, if you liked my speech today, the credit goes to the Cornell Law School.
And particularly Professor Barcelo. Thank you.
STEWART SCHWAB: Thank you so much, Dr. Tsai, for a wonderful talk with a wonderful conclusion. I'm now honored to introduce Professor Chen Jian. He holds the Michael J. Zak chair of history for US China relations, here at Cornell University. And I can think of no one better suited to comment on Dr. Tsai's lecture. And so we are fortunate to have Professor Chen right here at Cornell.
Dr. Chen received Masters degrees from Fudan University and East China Normal University in his native Shanghai, a PhD from Southern Illinois University in 1990. He's a prolific scholar and recognized as one of the world's most preeminent historians of Chinese American relations.
Among his many accomplishments and awards, too many for me to recite here, but I will just list one, which is an Emmy award a couple of years ago for the documentary Declassified-- Nixon in China. Please, welcome Professor Chen.
CHEN JIAN: Thank you. Thank you very much, Dean Schwab. And also, thank you so much, Dr. Tsai, for setting the stage for me to share my opinions with this audience and with you and also with our guests from Taiwan. What an honor. And then what a challenge.
Let me begin with saying this. In the spirit that we are fellow Cornellis that are provided such a huge stage for us to have discussions and in addition, I found you get your-- you got your PhD from the London School of Economics. In two weeks time, I will be going to LSE to holds the Philippe Roman Chair in History and International Relations. So maybe you will be invited by LSE, and I will have another opportunity to comment on your speech.
TSAI ING-WEN: It would be me commenting.
CHEN JIAN: That's fine. And also, I completely realize that I am a scholar. And you have many capacities, including being a scholar. And an advantage of my being a scholar and a disadvantage of you having so many different kinds-- capacities is that I probably can speak more frankly. I will be able to share with the audience how and why I agree with Dr. Tsai on many of her excellent points. And I also will take the liberty to share with you, and also our guests from Taiwan, my disagreement, in the spirit a free academic discussion.
First, I must say, I cannot agree more that Taiwan is one of the most successful stories toward modernity, democracy, and open society. And also, as a historian, I'm greatly encouraged by this story because it has shattered the long-standing notion that within the context of Chinese culture, it was impossible for democracy to emerge. And also, in the more practical sense, Taiwan's successful story toward modernity, democracy, and open society played an extremely important in shaping the context in which China's reform and opening process began, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Therefore, the meaning, the significance of Taiwan's successful path toward democracy and open society is much larger than Taiwan, itself. I will have to argue, this is a great-- a great story of the 20th century, which will have great impact for the many centuries to come. I agree.
Also, I completely agree with you about to what extent Taiwan has been facing challenge internally. And I do believe that it is a meaningful course to establish a unique identity by the people living in Taiwan. There are people living in every part of the world. This is not just a unique challenge, by itself, but it's unique in the case of Taiwan, largely because-- this is what I'm going to discuss-- the so-called Taiwan question, from my perspective, as a historian, has been shaped in three contexts. And this is where my disagreement with you begins.
First, the context of colonialism and imperialism. As everyone ought to know, both the people living in Taiwan and the people living on the mainland have suffered, in the past three, four, five centuries, the inclusions and aggressions of Western imperialism and [? colonialism. ?] In this sense, people of greater Asia, of greater China, people living on the mainland, and people living on the Taiwan island are victims of that age of colonialism and imperialism.
I noticed that in your speech, you tried to equate the Chinese experience as the Dutch experience, Japanese experience, and some other experience. In Taiwan, I'm afraid that as a historian-- and also, I'm sure many of my colleagues will strongly disagree because on the grand scale of history's development, there are very well accepted consensus by scholars about the definition of that age of colonialism and imperialism. And by any definition, it will be extremely difficult for the Chinese to be identified as the colonists.
And actually, the story of Taiwan began with suffering of people of China, both on the mainland and in Taiwan, at the hands of Western and Japanese inclusions. Indeed, the year of 1894 had been such a year of significance in Chinese history, for both people living on the mainland and also on the Taiwan island, as a turning point because China had been sucked up into the very deep abyss of national humiliation. Therefore, in order to understand the context in which the Taiwan question emerged, we certainly cannot, and should not, try to confuse our basic understanding of that part of history.
This leads me to my discussion of the second factor in the context in which the Taiwan question had been shaped, which is the Chinese Civil War and the Cold War. What is the essence of a Chinese Civil War? This was certainly not just a struggle between the nationalists and the communists. This is a question about how to identify modality and how to identify the past, to save China, to make China strong, and also to revive China's equal and respected position in the international community.
As a result, Taiwan people were, from the beginning, an integral part on both sides. They were not on the opposite side of this. In other words, the Civil War was not really a question that would finally result in the separation between mainland and Taiwan. And what, of course, did? The Cold War.
I'm regarded as a scholar who knows something about the Cold War. Let me argue that, again, what has caused tremendous sense of suffering and victimization on the part of the Chinese-- not just PRC, not just communist state, but the Chinese people, ordinary Chinese people, everyday Chinese people, Chinese men and women-- was indeed the inability on the part of the Chinese to make sure that in modern times, [? when ?] [? in ?] [? Taiwan ?] has been [? interpreted. ?]
For a moment, during the Cold War, they were unable to make sure that China would emerge as a unified sovereignty and entity. This has a cost, something that we cannot ignore when we try to discuss Taiwan's status today. I will discuss this later.
And third, related to the Cold War situation but, more importantly, related to the radical revolutionary approach on the part of mainland Chinese, under the bed of communist revolution, to rap-- to rapidly transform China's state in this [? society, ?] to make it into an entity of modernity in occupying its own unique position in the world. That is a communist revolution. As it has proven by history, Mao's communist revolution was one that had great achievement while, at the same time, creating the tremendous disaster for the Chinese people. And one result of it was that it created and widened the huge developmental gap between mainland-- the mainland and Taiwan.
And as a result, when Taiwan, under the KMT Regime-- I have many critical opinions about the KMT, but I must say, especially under Chiang Ching-kuo, the KMT allowed itself to [? immerse ?] the great trend, worldwide, toward modernity, playing the founda-- paving the foundation of Taiwan becoming a flying economy, becoming one of the four dragons, while at the same, mainland China lagged behind. That further widened the gap between mainland China and Taiwan.
So let me turn to my next point, next discussion. We have discussed the context in which the so-called Taiwan question has been shaped. What is the way to deal with the so-called challenge, today?
This is too big a question for me just to discuss today, here. Let me just throw out a few coins. If you find, you can use them to buy some useful commodities.
First, Taiwan identity. This is not a [? problem. ?] This is a very legitimately issue for people with unique and different experiences. It is always justified to develop a sense of ident-- identity that is different from a situation in which their practice and experience will have been different. So the question is, what has worried me, what has concerned me, in the current political proposals for dealing with the Taiwan question, I've found-- I'm greatly troubled that many think, including our DPP friends in Taiwan especially think that this is the only a question for the Taiwan people to define and to decide.
I will argue, in the context of the historical context that I have laid out, I believe the opinions of 1.3 billion [INAUDIBLE] Chinese on the mainland is highly relevant because, what is the legitimacy of a historical development? This is indeed people's inner recognition of certain historical trends and development, be it right or wrong.
So 1.3 Chinese definition of China includes Taiwan. To allow Taiwan to change into a sovereignty or entity that is different from Taiwan being a part of China, whatever, however you would define that China, that is to ask 1.3 billion Chinese to change their definition of China.
So I argue, if someone in Taiwan says, we want to unify with the mainland, let the Taiwan people have a referendum on it. Otherwise, any decision on reunification will have-- be having no legitimacy. However, if any de facto or de jure action toward independence, in whatever sense, is to happen in Taiwan, in order for it to have legitimacy, you must have a referendum by the 1.3 billion of Chinese.
Let me also argue that Taiwan is, today, facing challenges, but there are tremendous opportunities. China is rising joint. But it has its own problems.
Who else, in the world today, are in the better position to handle China's challenges than Taiwan? Why then to try to take advantage of it? Why always try to think that, OK, Chinese are not necessarily on our side of the cause. They are larger. They are more powerful. And also, they have argued for this thing that is called One China.
One China is [? no ?] [? thing. ?] One China is a concept that is widely recognized and accepted by the international community. So as a historian, if I can make a very small correction, the United States not only acknowledges that the PRC government is the sole legal government of China-- it actually accepted it. I'm afraid, if you read The Shanghai Communique, you will find use of the term acknowledge. If you read The Establishment of Diplomacy Communique, you will find something very different. The United States actually accepted the PRC government as the sole legal government of China. Again, I'm not endorsing that position, as a scholar. I'm just stating a historical fact.
Further, I agree with many of your policy proposals, but I'm troubled by-- among other things, by two proposals. One is for the United States and the international community to try to enhance Taiwan's military capacity in order to have a balance with mainland China. You know, as a scholar of international history and diplomacy, that has never been the case in the past because what has happened in the past is that once one side has tried to enhance its military capacity in the name of defense, it almost always results in the increase of military capacity on the other side. Actually, this is exactly the case that we have seen in cross-strait relations.
I would argue that, why, then, to let us go to the fundamentals? Why don't we read some of the fundamental statements of the Beijing government more seriously? Since the late 1990s, the Chinese Communist Party has made it very, very clear in its strategic past, reunification is not a top priority. It is a second-- and now it's third-- priority. The top priority-- first, development. Second, peace and stability. That is a very serious statement, the commitment made by the Chinese government to the Chinese people.
You're absolutely right about arguing that the Chinese communist state is facing a serious legitimacy challenge because we all know-- it's a simple fact-- China, today, under the reign of communist party, is going into anything but communist. However, that does not mean the Chinese communist state, if you omit communist, is without legitimacy. Indeed, my worst nightmare, as a scholar, will be seeing a head-on confrontation between so-called Taiwan nationalism, especially a version of Taiwan nationalism that has been mobilized by irresponsible politicians and an Ultranationalist sentiment on the part of the Chinese, especially if China's drive toward modernity had failed in one way or another that [? cost. ?]
Whoever is [? luring ?] Beijing find a need to use Ultranationalism as a weapon to divert domestic attention toward crisis. I think I've said enough. There are many things I can say, but for listening to you, that is a learning experience. And again, my task is much, much easier than yours. I am a scholar.
When I'm saying things here, I do not appear in the political responsibility as [INAUDIBLE] because, fortunately, I am tenured here at Cornell University.
Thank you very much for your listening to me.
Again, it's a great honor for me to be here to share my opinion with you. Thank you.
STEWART SCHWAB: Ah, the value of tenure.
I'm now pleased to introduce Professor Jack Barcelo, the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of International and Comparative Law here at Cornell Law School. He's also the [? right ?] [? director ?] of the Berger International Legal Studies Program.
He arrived at Cornell Law School as an assistant professor, back in 1969, has been accomplished scholar and inspiring teacher ever since--
SPEAKER: [INAUDIBLE] years ago.
STEWART SCHWAB: --specializing in World Trade Organization law, international business transactions, and commercial arbitration. And as you've heard, among the many, many students that he has mentored over the years, Professor Barcelo was the LLM thesis advisor for Ing-wen Tsai, here at Cornell. I now invite Professor Barcelo to comment on his former student's paper. Thank you very much.
JACK BARCELO: Thank you very much, Stewart. It is quite a great pleasure to be on a program with Dr. Tsai, a former student, to see how she has prospered and become such an important leader in world affairs.
I remember it well. In 1979, 1980, she's described to you some of the interactions between the two of us. She was, herself, much younger then.
And of course, obviously, I was much younger. But I was more her suit up here--
--as she noticed when we compared pictures a little earlier in the day. Now, another difference from those times was that she was a student of mine in Admiralty Law, where we might have even met in this room or an adjacent room, and where we talked about maritime liens and seamen's injuries. The topic, today, is a bit more important than maritime liens and seamen's injuries. On the other hand, on those topics, I could claim some level of expertise.
On the topic on the table for this afternoon, I have to disclaim, really, having any expertise or special background in prostrate relations. As you heard from Dean Schwab, my field of work and expertise is in the field of international trade, WTO law, international business, international dispute settlement, commercial arbitration. And you will probably see a link between that constellation of interests on my part and the comments that I have to make about Dr. Tsai's very impressive presentation.
Dr. Tsai spoke about the cross-strait relations, past, present, future. And what I want to do is focus on future. Options for the future.
As I see it, and hear what she has said, and have learned from what she has told us, the rules now being reversed-- I'm learning from her-- it seems to me there are two options, two fundamental options. That simplifying, but it helps us to think of it in those terms.
One is unilateral change from the status quo. Two is working within the framework of the status quo. Now, unilateral change from the status quo would obviously mean some move on the part of Taiwan toward declaring a form of independence. That, as we know, could very well generate a unilateral response from the PRC, which could involve military action to attempt to block that achievement of that outcome and possibly to change the de facto situation and, de facto, bring Taiwan within the control of the mainland Chinese.
I don't hear Dr. Tsai as saying that she would choose that option as at least, a first best option for Taiwan. I don't hear her taking that option off the table. I understand that she is the leader of a party in Taiwan which includes a point of view and a feeling, on the part of members of the society in Taiwan, that very passionately favors that outcome. At the same time, I don't hear her advancing that as a realistic option, currently.
The second option, which is also the one that strikes me as the only really realistic option in front of us, is working within the framework of the status quo, working within by focusing on pragmatic issues of importance to the prosperity, the economic benefit, and advancement of the people of Taiwan and the people in the Asian region and mainland China. Now, if I say working within the framework of the status quo, the question arises, what's the status quo? And what does working within that framework mean?
So first of all, status quo. I heard Dr. Tsai say that it's not easy to define the status quo. I agree. It strikes me as if it contains, at least, these two elements. First of all, a separation between the de facto status of Taiwan and the de jure legal status of Taiwan.
As a de facto matter, Taiwan is a self-governing territory, indistinguishable from an independent state, as a de facto matter. Taiwan has a territory. It has a population. It has a government. It has a government that controls the territory and controls the people. That would be what would look like an independence state to the world community.
At the same time, Taiwan is not characterizing itself, de jure, as an independent state. It is separating the question of its de facto status from the de jure status. That strikes me as an important part of the status quo.
Now, a second part of the status quo, I think, that one can see, is an intentional and deliberate attempt to leave in an ambiguous state what the de jure status of Taiwan is. Now, of course, if one looks at this question from the point of view of the PRC, the PRC does not see any ambiguity. The PRC articulates its view of the de jure status of Taiwan as involving One China. One China includes mainland China and Taiwan. And the one legitimate government for the One China is the People's Republic of China government. That's the perspective of the PRC. There isn't any ambiguity there.
Now, what about the perspective of Taiwan? I heard Dr. Tsai say that the current government accepts the 1992 consensus.
But what is the 1992 consensus? It strikes me as a misnomer. There's a consensus almost only in the context of saying there's One China. But what does One China mean?
Again, the PRC's perspective is what I've just given, but I don't believe the current government of Taiwan agrees with that perspective. I don't believe the current government of Taiwan or the large population of Taiwan would accept what was once the view of the Taiwanese people and government of what One China meant, which was that there was one China, mainland and Thailand, and the Republic of China government was the only legitimate government of the One China. It's pretty clear, from the current reforms in the legal system in Taiwan that that's not view of Taiwan today, either.
So there currently is an ambiguity-- from, at least, Taiwan's perspective-- as to what its de jure status is. And I think that this is a part of the status quo. One can talk about a consensus about what-- that everyone agreeing there's a One China. But there isn't a clear consensus on what that means.
And I think this is a situation that allows us to move forward, pragmatically and effectively, within the context of separating de facto from de jure status and deliberately keeping the de jure status issue ambiguous. So what if one keeps that, as the concept of status quo, in mind? What would be-- what would constitute working within the framework of the status quo?
Now, here, I would say this would mean focusing on pragmatic de facto problems of economic prosperity, advance, and so on, both for Taiwan and for mainland China, and for Asia, generally. This would, to me, mean that one ought to be concerned about the issues of commerce, trade, finance, communications, transportation, all of those things in the Asian region, including as between Taiwan and mainland China.
The model would be the WTO. Surprise--
--from the WTO scholar. Taiwan's a member. So is the PRC. In being a member, and in participating in the WTO, Taiwan is able to do so, maintaining the ambiguity of its de jure status because membership and behavior and activity in the WTO only involves the need to talk about an area as a customs territory. So customs territories play a role in the WTO.
So it's entirely possible to treat the WTO as-- to treat Taiwan's role and function in the WTO as simply a customs territory, leaving still ambiguous the de jure status of Taiwan. Taiwan has agreed on the rules of the WTO. It negotiates within the WTO. It may use the WTO's dispute settlement process and can be considered by the PRC as functioning as a customs territory and not as an independent state.
Taiwan could attempt to play a role in other international organizations, particularly of an economic nature, where it's not necessary to treat Taiwan as an independent state, where the lawyer's job would be to come up with a legal definition which would continue to keep this deliberate, what I sometimes think, to myself, should be called benign ambiguity. There could also be relationships between and agreements between Taiwan and the other Asian nations in the region, dealing with trade, commerce, investment, transportation, and communications, focusing just on these practical matters concerned with the welfare of the citizens involved.
And it would seem to me even-- at least, from a theoretical point of view-- conceivable that one could imagine a series of agreements and negotiated patterns between Taiwan and mainland, itself, with, perhaps, the European Union as something of a model, where the goal is first, get and achieve economic integration-- perhaps, on the gradual scale. Now there are WTO relations between Taiwan and mainland China. There could be a further degree of economic integration, free trade area, customs union, deeper economic integration than that, with the concept, in the future, of political union.
Now, it might well be that Taiwan would come to that idea, if it's possible, with a concept that there would have to be a form of open, free, and democratic government before Taiwan would be prepared to be a part of that political union. But that wouldn't have to be defined now. That could be, again, left for the future.
It might also be that Taiwan would want, in an arrangement of this kind, to be sure that it would be free to enter into similar kinds of agreements with other Asian nations. Might want that. I'm sure, because I've discussed this with Dr. Tsai, that that's how she would approach this idea that I'm throwing out, of a kind of economic unity first, with political unity to follow later, as a concept.
What I don't know is how the PRC would react to such a proposal. I'd be interested in knowing. I'm not sure what kinds of discussions might go on behind the scenes. But it strikes me as the only realistic way forward-- is this still working? The only realistic way forward.
The unilateral approach isn't realistic. I don't believe that the people of Taiwan think it's a realistic approach. I don't believe Dr. Tsai thinks it's a realistic approach. She's not taking it off the table. But I don't think she thinks of it as a realistic approach.
I think the only realistic approach is going forward within the status quo, defined as I've done, separate de facto from de jure, and deliberately leave the de jure status of Taiwan in a condition of benign ambiguity. Thank you.
STEWART SCHWAB: Thank you very much, Professor Barcelo. We have just a few minutes left. But I would invite questions from the audience. Question?
SPEAKER 1: Yeah. Dr. Tsai, [INAUDIBLE]. I've got a question about-- in terms of first of all, [INAUDIBLE]. The reason [INAUDIBLE]. I'm translating from Mandarin. The so-called diplomatic troops and also the China and Taiwan is no longer a state to [? play ?] relationship as proposals is described by Mr. Mao [INAUDIBLE]. [INAUDIBLE] was a comment on them that [INAUDIBLE] physical [INAUDIBLE]
TSAI ING-WEN: Before I respond to that question just raised, I'd like to respond to the two commentators, first. Can I do that?
STEWART SCHWAB: Please, be our guest.
TSAI ING-WEN: Then I will give another speech then. Right. I'd like to thank the commentator, Professor Chen, for your historian's historical view on the issues that are raised. And I appreciate that.
Certainly, we do have a lot of disagreements, in ourselves. And that is why we do have this difficult cross-strait relationship. I'm sure we would have to continue our discussions and dialog in the future.
But as far as Professor Barcelo is concerned, I need to make some clarification because I skipped part of my presentation today. I thought they were too legalistic. But since Professor Barcelo made these comments, I thought it might be useful if I made clarifications.
Now, about Taiwan's status, the legal status of Taiwan, of course, the international lawyers have different opinions. And some lawyers will say Taiwan is already a state, a country. And some others will say, Taiwan is not yet a country. But it is still a self-- at least, a self-governing body with international personality.
So these are the views of international lawyers. And [INAUDIBLE] different lawyers have different views. Now, about One China, I want to make this clarification too. That is, DPP, as a political party, does not accept One China. And we may consider that, as an option for the future, but you know, currently, we just don't accept One China.
But as far as KMT is concerned, it's a bit-- I'm trying to find a better word for that. A bit unclear. The KMT's definition of One-- formulation of One China is it is One China which each party free to have its own interpretation.
Now, the KMT's interpretation is that that One China is the Republic of China.
Now, if that China is the Republic of China, what is People's Republic of China, then? So in my speech, just now, I did mention that the consensus of all of the political parties in Taiwan is that they are between-- that in the cross-strait, they are actually two separate sovereignties. You may say that a PRC versus OLC, that is one scenario. And the other is Taiwan versus China. But all of the parties in Taiwan have this common position that is, there are two separate sovereignties. But [INAUDIBLE] is whether Taiwan is already a state, as I've mentioned, that international lawyers-- I'm sure there are plenty here-- have different views.
Now, about WTO-- I guess, that is a good idea. And I like it. I mean, this is a place for people to meet, to discuss, to negotiate, and to settle issues.
And WTO has an existing framework. And it is a multilateral framework. And it has well established rules of nondiscrimination, equity, and all sorts of rules. And it has a body of law that has been developed over the last 50 years.
So I guess, that is probably the best place for both sides to meet and to sort out the trade and economic problems that we are having at the moment. And at the moment, both sides are just-- don't have substantive discussions on these issues. And I thought that WTO, as an existing organization with both parties being members of-- regular members of that organization, it's the best place for [? those ?] to meet.
Now, talking about economic integration, as suggested by Professor Barcelo, I think that is fine, so long as we also have access to other countries, in terms of forming free trade arrangements with other parties, like the United States.
And the fact is we have been trying to form free trade arrangements with other countries in Asia, as well as with the United States. The fact is there are legal difficulties. The Chinese [INAUDIBLE] just don't like to see it happen.
So if we were to form some sort of the free trade arrangements or had further economic integration with China, we want to have it balanced with our access to other countries, in terms of forming free trade arrangements and integrating all in harmony with the rest of Asia.
And now, your question. And this diplomatic [? truce ?] and the statement made by the president recently. Being the opposition's leader, of course, I will say, no, I don't like it.
But to what extent that would affect the status quo is a very interesting question. But I don't think it would be a good idea to say things like this unilaterally.
I mean, if this is a consensus and agreement among-- between the two parties, this is probably something that you may consider. But if it's a unilateral concession made by a particular party, I don't think it's a good idea. So that is the answer to your question.
We really have time for just one more question. Yes? Please.
SPEAKER 2: I have a question for the special guest, Dr. Tsai. Actually, during a recent interview with [INAUDIBLE], President [INAUDIBLE] clearly made out three points with regard to cross-strait relations.
First, Taiwan [? into ?] [? China ?] has a special relationship, but not that between two countries. Secondly, a cross-strait relationship has to be based on the 1992 consensus. Thirdly, the meaning of One China is open to different interpretations. So I wonder, what would be your or your party's response to our current [INAUDIBLE]?
TSAI ING-WEN: Well, I don't know what is the intention behind this statement made by the president. But I thought it was rather unnecessary. I mean, he was actually making secessions on sovereignty issues. But you don't make unilateral concessions while you don't have an opportunity to start the negotiation. So it's just difficult for me to understand why he said all of that.
I mean, as I said, the positions of all of the party are rather clear, as I explained. One, the DPP doesn't like the idea of One China. And but we think it's OK. If the Chinese want to talk to us about One China, we'll be happy to talk to them about it. But setting acceptance of One China as the precondition for cross-strait talk, I don't think that is something that is accessible to the DPP.
And secondly, the President's comments at the 1992 consensus is the basis for both parties to interact. And according to KMT's own interpretation of this 1992 consensus-- essentially, it's a formulation that developed in the late-- in the 1990s that is, as I said, One China with each party free to have its own interpretation. And KMT's interpretation is that One China is the Republic of China.
So I guess, there's a gap, there, for the KMT-controlled government to sort out with the Chinese if they think that this is a basis for them to move forward. So again, as a lawyer, rather than the opposition's leader-- as a lawyer, I fail to understand the logic behind it. Thanks.
STEWART SCHWAB: We could have, of course, many more questions. But I actually do not feel bad in cutting off the conversation because it is a conversation that must go on, not for minutes but for days and weeks and months and years. And so it is good to cut it off now, at the time-- 10 minutes after the time we said, than to let it go on.
But I want to thank all of our panelists-- Professor Barcelo, Professor Chen, but particularly Dr. Tsai-- for a most informative conversation. Thank you very much.
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In 2008, Tsai Ing-wen LLM '80, then chairperson of Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), visited Cornell to deliver the Clarke Lecture in East Asian Law and Culture. On January 16, 2016, Ing-wen became the first woman and the second Cornellian to be elected president of Taiwan.