Sun, Apr 30, 2000 - Page 1 News List

Koo wants return to consensus

CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS The chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation has reiterated the current and incoming government's stance that the PRC's interpretation of `one China' is not acceptable

By Catherine Sung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Koo Chen-fu at a press conference yesterday marking the seventh anniversary of the Koo-Wang talks. Koo used the phrase "spring goes and spring returns again" to describe his hopes for future cross-strait relations and called for early resumption of cross-strait dialogue.

PHOTO: CHIANG YING-YING, TAIPEI TIMES

Commemorating the seventh anniversary of the Koo-Wang talks which were held in Singapore, Taiwan's top cross-strait negotiator yesterday urged governments on both sides of the Strait to return to the 1992 consensus to allow individual interpretations of "one China."

"The only way to break the current stalemate is to return to the 1992 consensus," said Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

"If one side is too obstinate or the other too rigidly persistent, it creates an obstacle to constructive exchange," Koo said during a press conference yesterday.

In the 1992 meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Daohan (汪道涵), of the Association for Relations Across the Strait (ARATS), the two had agreed to disagree on the definition of "one China."

Beijing however, later reneged on the verbal agreement and issued a white paper in November 1993 on "the Taiwan question and reunification."

In it, Beijing maintained that there is only "one China," with the PRC being the sole legitimate government and Taiwan being a part of China.

Under the KMT government, Taiwan has previously accepted the "one China" concept, but has defined it as an abstract, historical and future concept. This changed, however, when President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) made his "state-to-state" statement last July. Many saw this as a step by the president to distance Taiwan from the 1992 consensus.

President-elect Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has brushed aside the individual interpretation agreement by questioning whether such consensus was ever made and instead has suggested that cross-strait talks treat "one China" as a topic of discussion rather than the defining principle of any talks.

"It's clear we can't accept the `one China' model as defined by the mainland," Koo told reporters. "Our `one China' is based on equal status and separate government," he said.

He urged Beijing to allow more flexibility in their definition of "one China," by recognizing that there is not yet a unified China.

"Instead of saying Taiwan is a part of China, why not say that `Taiwan is ALSO a part of China?" Koo said.

Koo hinted he would be willing to "bridge" the differences between the KMT and the new government on the "one China" question, but declined to say whether President-elect Chen will address the issue in his May 20 inauguration speech.

SEF secretary-general Shi Hwei-yow (許惠祐) said the new government should respect the 1992 consensus "just like any other agreements such as the ones made with the US or Japan." He also said that Chen's idea to use "one China" as a discussion topic could break the stalemate in cross-strait relations.

"China should not view Chen's suggestions with so much suspicion," Shi told reporters after the press conference.

"Taking `one China' as an issue of discussion may be more progressive and pragmatic than just having each side march to the beat of their own drums," he said.

However, a possible deadlock over what exactly "one China" means may also prove to be a setback for cross-strait relations, Shi added.

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