A few days ago, Xinhua news agency published a long opinion piece about the meeting between Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍). The article commented on the meeting’s political basis and on the possible direction of future developments. The comments in the article are something that Taiwanese should pay attention to and seriously think about.
On the first topic, the article said: “Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has stated on many occasions that cross-strait relations are not ‘state-to-state relations’ and that he will not promote ideas like ‘two Chinas,’ ‘one China, one Taiwan’ or ‘Taiwanese independence.’”
The article also said that “in June last year, when honorary chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) met with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), they each made it even clearer that the laws and systems of both sides practice the ‘one China principle’ and both use the ‘one China framework’ when defining cross-strait relations and that this provides a clearer basis for the two sides when it comes to upholding the ‘one China framework.’”
From this, it is evident that for Beijing, the Ma administration’s acceptance of the “one China” framework was a precondition for the Wang-Zhang meeting. In response, the Ma administration must explain whether, in addition to the ambiguous and shady so-called “1992 consensus,” the political basis for the current cross-strait interactions has changed.
If the situation has not changed, why has China interpreted things as if it has? Also, if what China says is correct, it would have involved a lot of sneaking around by Ma’s government. The administration must answer why it did not seek the public’s or the legislature’s agreement by offering the nation an explanation of its plan.
Looking ahead, the opinion piece said the two-way communication mechanism established by the meeting will have a major and positive impact on issues related to the full development of cross-strait relations, such as the exchange of opinions on political issues, forging agreements and fostering mutual trust.
That is to say, when Zhang makes his scheduled visit to Taiwan, China will put the discussion of political issues on the agenda and demand that Taiwan “forge a consensus” and “build mutual trust” on this front.
This suggests that matters are nowhere near as simple as an MAC press release alleges by saying that Zhang’s return to Taiwan would help “develop a deeper understanding of Taiwanese society and the conditions of its people.”
Ma’s administration was extremely pleased with itself after the Wang-Zhang meeting because the word “minister” was used. Most upsetting and unsettling in all of this are the sacrifices that Ma’s administration made to have Wang referred to as “minister” and whether the use of the title was really worth it. What further costs will have to be paid? With just two years left in office, it is safe to say that — apart from squeezing Taiwan dry — the Ma administration is not concerned with anything else.
Huang Tzu-wei is a researcher at the Taiwan Thinktank.
Translated by Drew Cameron