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September 25, 2017

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Ma must forge PRC peace accord

Now that President Ma Ying-jeou has been re-elected, Taiwan must try to conclude a peace accord with the People's Republic of China. As a matter of fact, it is long overdue. But it is better late than never.

Let's go back to history. In 2005, then-President Chen Shui-bian, who is now doing time for corruption and graft, went back on his inauguration promise, virtually terminating the National Unification Council President Lee Teng-hui had set up. In retaliation, an irate China adopted an anti-secession law codifying an automatic invasion of Taiwan if there occurs any move toward independence. To head off a confrontation, Lien Chan, the then-chairman of the Kuomintang, made a journey of peace to declare together with Chinese Communist Party Secretary-General Hu Jintao in Beijing to work toward a peace accord across the Taiwan Strait.

In the run-up to the 2008 presidential election, Ma made a campaign promise to sign a peace accord between Taiwan and the People's Republic, if he were elected. He was elected, but reneged on his promise just as Chen did by making the National Unification Council cease to function. Nonetheless, President Ma renewed his promise in his "Golden Decade Vision" platform for his bid for a second term to conclude a peace pact across the Strait in ten years. Under fire from his challenger Tsai Ing-wen and company, Ma qualified his promise by laying down the three conditions for the accord being "needed by the nation," "agreed to by the people," and "supervised by Parliament." He then followed it up by offering a referendum to decide whether negotiations would be started on that pact. He said the peace agreement would be negotiated if the referendum is passed. If not, there would be no negotiations. Ma won the re-election. All he needs to do now is to satisfy those conditions and conclude peace between Taiwan and China before he steps down in 2016.

One thing has to be made perfectly clear. The conclusion of the peace accord has nothing to do with Chinese unification. The pact is one to end formally the long Chinese civil war, which started or resumed right after World War II.

Chiang Kai-shek began to attack Mao Zedong's stronghold in Jiangxi long before the Japanese kicked off their undeclared war on China on July 7, 1937. Mao Zedong's defeated ragtag army in Jiangxi took off for its Long March, and finally reached Yenan near Xian, where Chiang was kidnapped by rebels and had to agree to suspend the civil war in 1936. Chiang's Kuomintang decided to work together with Mao's Chinese Communist Party after what is known as the Xian Incident to resist Japanese aggression. Chiang was released on Christmas Day in that year and the Marco Polo Bridge Incident occurred the next year to lead the Japanese Empire to go to war with the United States in 1941. As soon as the Pacific War, a part of World War II, had ended, the war between Chiang and Mao began with a vengeance.

Mao won the resumed war, and proclaimed his People's Republic in Beijing on Oct. 1, 1949. Chiang's Kuomintang government and his defeated army had to come to Taiwan at the end of the year. During the civil war, Chiang had to step down as president of the Republic of China in favor of Vice President Li Tsung-jen who tried to negotiate a peace with Mao. In March of 1950 Chiang resumed office as president, and his government continued to "suppress" the Chinese Communist rebellion to keep on the civil war. Inasmuch as Taipei is concerned, that civil war came to an end with President Lee terminating the Period of National Mobilization of Suppression of Communist Rebellion, which Chiang proclaimed in Nanjing in 1948 to war on Mao. By ending Chiang's 1948 decree, Lee put an end to the "Suppression of Communist rebellion," or Chiang's civil war, without concluding a peace agreement with the People's Republic. On the other hand, Beijing has never accepted Taipei's claim that the war is over.

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