Tue, Jul 05, 2016 - Page 8 News List

The Liberty Times Editorial: Debunking the ‘1992 consensus’

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office recently announced that it has halted the regular mechanism of cross-strait communication because President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has refused to recognize the so-called “1992 consensus.” Tsai’s numerous expressions of goodwill toward China, including a reference to the 1992 talks in her inaugural address on May 20, her willingness to allow Taiwan’s delegation to the World Health Assembly to use the name “Chinese Taipei” and her conciliatory words to China’s leaders on the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, have all been snubbed and ignored by Beijing.

However, in an interview with Voice of America, published last week, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt said that former Mainland Affairs Commission chairman Su Chi (蘇起) only started using the term “1992 consensus” in 2000.

Burghardt said that then-Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) chairman Wang Daohan (汪道涵) and then-Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) never used the term. Yet, despite this, China continues to demand that Tsai’s government acknowledge the wholly nonexistent “1992 consensus,” but then halts cross-strait communication when Tsai declines to do so.

China’s leaders will swear black is white to have their way.

Burghardt also said that he believed Tsai had displayed flexibility in dealing with cross-strait relations in her inaugural address. The implication is that Tsai’s China policy has not endangered cross-strait relations.

Instead, it is Beijing that has chosen to suspend dialogue with Taiwan and so Taiwan should not be held responsible. It also demonstrates that the conciliatory gestures that Tsai has made to date are sufficient and there is no need for her administration to make any further sacrifices in order to mollify Beijing.

It goes without saying that this revelation — in addition to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the US House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee both recently voting to reaffirm the Taiwan Relations Act and the “six assurances” — on the eve of Tsai’s first-ever foreign relations offensive, is making the situation in the Taiwan Strait unpredictable.

It should be remembered that, following the announcement of the result of January’s presidential and legislative elections, AIT Director Kin Moy said that the US government does not have a view on the “1992 consensus,” nor does it have a definition for the term. At the time, Moy was simply emphasizing the US’ neutral position on the issue.

Who would have though that less than six months later Moy’s superior, Burghardt, would further puncture the “consensus” by saying that Koo and Wang never talked about any “1992 consensus” and that it was Su’s creation.

Furthermore, former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), during a recent televised speech to an award ceremony in Hong Kong, indulged in bombastic rhetoric, lauding the “1992 consensus” and his “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” formula. In response, Washington appears to be suggesting that after eight years, it has had enough of this man and his party’s charades. The “consensus” has fulfilled its purpose of keeping the peace on the Taiwan Strait, but we must not allow lies to be turned into truth.

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