Deciphering Tsai Ing-wen’s Next Moves
By Peter Kien-hong Yu

Deciphering Tsai Ing-wen’s Next Moves

Jan. 05, 2017  |     |  0 comments

On December 2, 2016, Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wen made an unprecedented telephone call to US president-elect, Donald Trump and they spoke for 10 minutes. Did that move shatter the status quo, maintained since January 1, 1979 when the US switched diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China under the one China principle? On December 11, Trump was asked in an interview whether Washington should continue its One China policy. He said no, unless mainland China makes concessions on international trade and other issues.

To decipher Tsai’s next steps, I will apply my one-dot theory — the Taiji Diagram (Diagram of Cosmological Scheme).

The Taiji square can be seen in the middle, which is the biggest diagram. It is a dot. We can parse this diagram in terms of four smaller models, each of which is but a dot. The first one is on the upper left-hand side. We see a blank circle. The second model is on the upper right-hand side. Another way of saying it is Yin and Yang. The third one is at the lower right-hand side. Its emphasis is on that small dot, meaning the Confucian middle road. And the last model is at the lower left-hand side. It is a version of the third model on the lower right-hand side. The name for this model is called the crab and frog motion model. 12345 is the safe zone spectrum, and ABCDE, the danger zone spectrum. A dialectician would refrain from entering the latter zone.


In Tsai’s inaugural speech in May 2016, she mentioned the Republic of China (ROC) four times, and Taiwan 41 times. She also emphasized the importance of maintaining the status quo. In June 2015, she visited the US and met American government officials and politicians. This would be put at 5. Several days later, a team of medical experts from Taiwan attended the World Health Organization assembly as observers under the name of Chinese Taipei.

If we simplify what her administration has done thus far and see what she is trying to do in the foreseeable future, the following crab and frog motion model is what is on her mind: Maintaining the status quo at 5, carrying the least weight in the scale; Chinese Taipei, 4, Taiwan, 3; Taiwan Nation, State, or Country, 2; and Republic of Taiwan, 1, carrying the most weight. E, to Tsai, would stand for the 100% Non-12345 and one synonym of which is the PRC.

To elaborate, Tsai’s status quo is actually a version of former president Ma Ying-jeou’s ROC (Taiwan) since May 2008. When she went to Panama City in June 2016, she indicated the proper noun after her name: Taiwan (ROC). What this means is that at the first time/space sequence, she is under Taiwan, and, under the next time/space sequence, she is under 5, which actually stands for the ROC.

On December 2, 2016, Chen Mingtong of National Taiwan University delivered a public lecture at the National Quemoy University. He is a trusted advisor of Tsai. He told the audience that, when he was a soldier, he had heard that Beijing may change its national title from the PRC to the ROC. Dialectically speaking, such a possibility can never be ruled out, if we have a firm grasp of the Chinese mainland’s mainstream economic line. If Xi Jinping and other Beijing leaders do choose the national title of ROC, Tsai would become a 100% ROC (Taiwan) president, while Xi, the president of the ROC [the Chinese mainland + Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) + Macao SAR]. To be sure, this still corresponds to the 100% November 1992 consensus at home and abroad.

Chinese Taipei or 2 is the name for the ROC, which was agreed upon in the November 1979 Nagoya, Japan Resolution, whereby Taipei can participate in certain (apolitical) activities under this designation, such as at the Olympic Games and the WHO.

Following the surrender of Imperial Japan in August 1945 to the US-led Allied Forces, Taiwan and the Pescadores became part of the ROC, as a province. However, due to a number of diplomatic setbacks, such as the withdrawal from the United Nations in the fall of 1971 and the break of diplomatic ties with the US in January 1979, more and more people simplified the official name to Taiwan. After Tsai overwhelmingly captured the presidency in January 2016, it has become very popular to just say Taiwan while waving the ROC flag at the same time at home and abroad.

It is very doubtful that Tsai and her advisors can outmaneuver their counterparts on the Chinese mainland.

So, to Tsai and her supporters, Taiwan or 3 is the middle road or a mixture of 1 and 5 in the crab and frog motion model. One of the synonyms of ROC is Taiwan independence (“taidu” in Chinese). However, Tsai has to know how to counter the name, “Taiwan, province of China,” which is preferred by Beijing leaders. In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague referred to Taiwan as the Taiwan Authority of China.

What about 2 and 1 in the safe zone spectrum? In July 2014, Tsai mentioned the term, “tianran du,” meaning that Taiwan independence comes natural to the young generations. This term certainly applies to both 1 and 2. 1 definitely stands for the Republic of Taiwan (ROT). Has Tsai jailed all those activists who advocated its creation? None whatsoever under the freedom of speech, which has been guaranteed by the ROC Constitution since July 1987.

2 stands for “Taiwan guo (nation, state, or country)” It is again a hybrid of 1, 2, and 3. However, it is not an outright ROT, which would mean 100% breakaway from the Chinese mainland.

Tsai since May 2016 has been under heavy pressure from supporters of ROT and “Taiwan guo.” Under such circumstances, CAI may just have to utter the following words: We are a country, Taiwan stands up. When she makes such remarks, it means that Tsai would be temporarily in between 2 and 3.

However, in Taiwan, there are still many people who belong to the blue camp, which is willing to cooperate and coordinate with the Communist Party of China (CPC) to fight against those activists who stand under 1 and 2. The blue camp includes members of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) and non-KMT members.

The call between Tsai and Trump has shattered the status quo. If Trump and his advisors still choose to not to understand the CPC’s mind and heart, Beijing may have no choice but, for example, to establish diplomatic relations with those 21 countries which still support Taipei, thereby making the ROC a state within the PRC. What does this mean? Tsai will literally become a local president, as opposed to the ROC president.

It is very doubtful that Tsai and her advisors can outmaneuver their counterparts on the Chinese mainland. The reason is simple and straightforward: Taipei does not have many bargaining chips.

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