It is dumbfounding how a lie told a thousand times can almost become “a truth” and be blown up to the point of having an effect on people’s lives and threatening regional stability.
A case in point is this spurious so-called “1992 consensus,” which former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) over the past eight years have been telling the public refers to an understanding reached in 1992 between Taiwanese and Chinese representatives that both Taiwan and China acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what that “one China” means (一個中國, 各自表述).
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson An Fengshan (安峰山) on Saturday cited the failure of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration to recognize the “1992 consensus” as the reason that cross-strait contact and communication have been “suspended” since May 20.
An said the “1992 consensus” is “the foundation for cross-strait relations that embodies the ‘one China’ principle.”
Unfortunately for Beijing, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt pierced this lie in an interview with Voice of America that was published on Sunday.
Burghardt said the term “1992 consensus” was created by then-Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2000.
Burghardt added that every time he met with then-Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) chairman Wang Daohan (汪道涵) or with then-Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), “they never called it that, never called it the ‘1992 consensus,’ because the name did not exist.”
Koo would sometimes just call it the “1992 understanding,” he said.
Some might argue that “understanding” means “consensus,” and therefore Su merely created a term for something that already existed.
However, historical documents prove this was not the case.
Historical accounts show that while the SEF proposed on Nov. 3, 1992, that Taiwan and China “verbally state” their respective interpretations of the “one China” principle, negotiations on the matter did not continue, as ARATS withdrew from the negotiation table unilaterally.
ARATS later in a fax on Nov. 16, 1992, said it was willing to “respect and accept” the foundation’s proposal; however, no actual consensus was ever reached on the proposal because the SEF refused to return to negotiations.
In other words, no consensus was ever reached between the two sides, period.
A US cable leaked by WikiLeaks in 2011 clearly noted a frank remark by Chinese academic Zhou Zhihuai (周志懷) who, in a cable issued by the US’ Beijing embassy, said Taiwan’s position of “each with its own interpretation” is intolerable to Beijing because it would be tantamount to the acceptance of two nations.
Anyone who defends the “1992 consensus” should ask themselves the following questions: If Beijing agrees to both sides having their own interpretation of what “one China” means, why does it make a fuss about Taiwanese waving the national flag, as seen earlier this year in the case involving Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜) a Taiwanese member of a South Korean girl group? If Beijing truly agrees to both sides having their own interpretation of what “one China” means, why does it work to block Taiwan from obtaining membership in international organizations under the title Republic of China (ROC)?
Hopefully, Burghardt’s latest confirmation that the “1992 consensus” never existed can give those who have long defended the existence of this fictitious consensus a reality check, and they can stop insisting it exists.
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