Sun, Jan 02, 2011 - Page 8 News List

Ma makes the ‘1992 consensus’ irrelevant

By Lai I-chung 賴怡忠

Late last month, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) cited China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Vice Chairman Li Yafei’s (李亞飛) statement at a cross-strait peace and wealth creation forum in Taiwan on Aug. 11 to support his claim that the so-called “1992 consensus” exists.

Su said ARATS and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) agreed that each side of the Taiwan Strait insist on adhering to the “one China” principle. Su also said that this was what the consensus meant.

However, this claim shows that the foundation of cross-strait negotiations between President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration and Beijing is the “one China” principle and not the “1992 consensus.”

The Ma administration has always told the public that the “1992 consensus” is “one China, with each side making its own interpretation.” It was therefore shocked to hear the ARATS vice chairman say that the consensus was in fact the “one China” principle. Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) quickly denied this, saying the consensus was that there is “one China,” each side having its own interpretation of what China is.

Three months later, five days after the sixth meeting between SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), the KMT used Li’s statement to prove the existence of the consensus, in effect ignoring Siew’s denial. If Li’s statement is taken to verify the truth about the consensus, then the KMT has shown itself to accept the “one China” principle. After all, it would be quite strange to call something on which there is no agreement a “consensus.”

The “one China” principle is also the basis for the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) that Taiwan signed with China. The change in Beijing’s attitude toward the ECFA can be traced directly to Ma’s political stance after resuming the chairmanship of the KMT. At the first Central Advisory Council meeting of his tenure held on Oct. 18, 2009, he said that “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” means that both sides accept the “one China” principle, but that they could make their own interpretation as to what that means. He therefore made the “one China” principle a premise to “one China, with each side having its own interpretation.”

After Ma clarified his political stance, China changed its passive attitude toward ECFA. A few days later, on Oct. 25, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi (王毅) said the two sides could exchange opinions on the signing of an ECFA during the fourth Chiang-Chen meeting. Later, when Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) met with former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) on Nov. 14, 2009, he promised to start ECFA talks by the end of that year.

After the ECFA was signed, Beijing reminded countries that the ECFA is a domestic business agreement, not an international one.

Since Ma came to power two-and-a-half years ago, there has been a subtle switch in the way the international community views Taiwan, from having de facto, but not de jure, independence, to seeing it as a de jure, but not de facto, part of China.

Therefore, the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait as defined by China’s “Anti-Secession” Law has become internationalized. This has come to pass because of the government’s tacit agreement on the “one China” principle for the sake of signing cross-strait agreements.

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