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Kuomintang Endorsement of Beijing Undermines Taiwanese Identity and Cause

The Kuomintang and Beijing want to resume talks based on the 1992 Consensus, but this is an unworkable approach as it inherently denies Taiwan's democracy.



Supporters gather at a rally of the Kuomintang (KMT) in New Taipei City on January 12, 2024. (©Robert D Eldridge)

The resonating slogan "Hong Kong today, Taiwan tomorrow" (jinri xianggang, mingri taiwan) played big in the minds of the Taiwanese voters in the recent general (legislative and presidential) election. Taiwan is beginning to reverberate with identity politics in favor of being "Taiwanese," drifting away from traditional broad-based party politics. During such a time, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Party's outreaches to Beijing are reflecting adversely. 

KMT's Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia led a party delegation to China a year ago in February 2023. There, he met with CCP's fourth-ranking politburo member, Wang Huning — whose mission is to lay the groundwork for Taiwan's unification. Wang is Xi Jinping's chief political theorist. He is predicted to formulate a new framework (read strategy) to achieve unification with Taiwan. 

Hsia's China visit and meeting with Wang immediately propelled perceptions that KMT was back to its long-pursued agenda of achieving unification with Mainland China. That is, even if it comes at the cost of Taiwanese sovereignty and de facto independence.

The conservative KMT's pan-Blue camp is known for its pro-Chinese identity and unification agenda. This echoed through the recent election. Meanwhile, the KMT did little to dispel its "pro-Chinese" image. 

The KMT has failed to understand that its managing to secure 33.49% of the popular vote share in this election is not an endorsement of its unification agenda. It was a mere objurgation of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on domestic issues and policies.

Democratic Progressive Party's Lai Ching-te declares victory in the Taiwan presidential election on January 13, Taipei City. (©Sankei by Kengo Matsumoto)

The 1992 Consensus

A mainland Chinese spokesperson commented that the results "will not impede the inevitable trend of China's reunification […] we will adhere to the 1992 Consensus that embodies the 'One-China' principle." 

This statement is reminiscent of July 2018 when Xi Jinping held a meeting with a delegation from Taiwan led by the former Chairman of the KMT, Lien Chan. The meeting was held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. There, Xi warned the Tsai Ing-wen administration that the PRC shall "never allow any attempts of 'Taiwan independence' to succeed […] such attempts are doomed to fail."

At that time, Lien Chen too made an unequivocal political pitch in Beijing. He proposed to uphold the "One-China" principle and realize the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Citing that the "situation in the Taiwan Strait has been destabilized," Lien highlighted the need to resume dialogue based on the 1992 Consensus. 


Herein lies the fundamental problem. Xi Jinping's emphasis, seconded by Lien, regarding the 1992 Consensus embodying the "One-China" principle, appears to be an impractical and unworkable approach in moving forward. The Consensus inherently opposes and deters Taiwan's democracy as well as keeps it from declaring independence.

History of KMT-CCP Ties

This also takes one back to the very genesis of ties between the KMT and the CCP. In modern Chinese history, the first United Front, ie, a coalition between the CCP and KMT began in 1924. The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "In return for Soviet military and organizational aid, Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhongshan), the leader of the KMT, agreed to a 'bloc within' alliance in which CCP members joined the KMT as individuals while retaining their separate CCP memberships. After Sun's death, in 1925, tension began to develop between the right wing of the KMT and the communists."

By 1926, Chiang Kai-shek was commander-in-chief of the KMT army. He expelled the communists from leadership positions. However, during this phase, "the left wing of the KMT, which had already established an independent regime in Wuhan, in central China, continued to support the communists, but the Wuhan regime's military situation became untenable, and frictions developed between the communists and the KMT's left wing," as cited in the Encyclopædia Britannica. 

The first United Front ended in 1927 with the dissolution of the alliance. Ten years later, in 1937, the second United Front between the KMT and communists was formally established. This time it continued officially until 1945, when a full-scale civil war broke out after KMT-communist unification talks broke down.

KMT and the One-China Principle

From then to its present-day political disposition, the Kuomintang and CCP have shared a complex relationship. Now the KMT finds itself at a crossroads vis-a-vis its domestic survival. At a time when Taiwanese identity and sovereignty appear a blink away from being crushed by the mighty communists from the Mainland, how will the KMT sell itself politically in Taiwan? 

According to the codified 1992 Consensus, the "One-China" policy had been held by both the CCP-led People's Republic of China (PRC) and the KMT-led Republic of China, commonly referred to as Taiwan. 

"One-China" is a principle and policy (yi ge zhongguo), depending on which country is talking about it. Primarily it holds that there is only one sovereign state encompassing both Mainland China and Taiwan. However, the PRC maintains that it is the legitimate governing party of this state, while the KMT believes it is the Republic of Taiwan.

Other parties in Taiwan have further differing perspectives. In the given historical backdrop, it would be nearly impossible for Lai Ching-te, or any future DPP leader, to assume the official CCP line. That is, the claim that Taiwan is part of "One China." 


More significantly, the DPP secured 40.05% of the popular vote in this election. That suggests Beijing would likely be heading towards introducing more coercive elements toward Taiwan. Those would include mounting unforeseen political, diplomatic, and military pressure on Taipei.


Author: Dr Monika Chansoria

Learn more about Dr Chansoria and follow her column "All Politics is Global" on JAPAN Forward, and on X (formerly Twitter). The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the views of any organization with which she is affiliated.

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