Sat, Mar 29, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Ma cautiously welcomes Hu comments

DIPLOMACY The AIT chief told Chen Shui-bian yesterday that he would only respond in private to his questions about the Cairo Declaration and so-called `1992 consensus'

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS

DPP Legislator Chai Trong-rong speaks at the legislature yesterday about what he called president-elect Ma Ying-jeou's three-steps to destroy Taiwan -- the ``1992 consensus,'' a peace agreement with China and eventual unification.

PHOTO: LIAO CHEN-HUEI, TAIPEI TIMES

Chinese President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) expression of willingness to resume cross-strait negotiations could be interpreted as a goodwill gesture from China and a positive sign for the development of cross-strait relations, president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said.

Nevertheless, caution was warranted, Ma told reporters yesterday after a private meeting with American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt at Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) headquarters in Taipei.

"We still need to confirm his comments and gain a better understanding of what he said," Ma said.

Hu reportedly indicated during a telephone conversation with US President George W. Bush on Wednesday that he would be willing to reopen cross-strait talks on the basis of the so-called "1992 consensus," which describes that both sides concede separate interpretations of the "one China" policy.

The "consensus" is not universally recognized as valid in Taiwan.

Ma said that since China's state-run news agency Xinhua did not make any mention of "one China, with each side having its own interpretation" in its Chinese news release, he would remain cautious about Hu's comments and continue to seek more information on the content of Hu and Bush's conversation.

"If the US and Chinese presidents both accepted the concept of `one China, with each side having its own interpretation,' it should have a positive impact on future cross-strait relations," Ma said.

In its English news release, Xinhua quoted Hu as telling Bush: "It is China's consistent stand that the Chinese mainland [sic] and Taiwan should restore consultation and talks on the basis of the 1992 consensus."

The report said Hu also expressed appreciation to the US for its "one China" policy, and "opposing" Taiwanese independence, last week's referendum on UN membership and Taiwan's bids to join international organizations that require statehood.

Xinhua only mentioned the "1992 consensus" in the Chinese version of the report.

Ma said it was important for China to accept that the "1992 consensus" stipulated separate interpretations of "one China."

He said that Taiwan interpreted "one China" to mean "the Republic of China (ROC)."

Burghardt yesterday expressed optimism about future US-Taiwan relations, saying he believed the two nations' relationship would be "excellent" under Ma's administration.

Prior to his one-hour closed meeting with Ma, Burghardt had visited President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) at the Presidential Office.

Burghardt told Chen during the meeting, which was open to the media, that the US would not come between Taiwan and China in terms of dealing with cross-strait issues and preconditions for cross-strait dialogue.

"The way in which you choose to deal with the tough issues, or the preconditions set by one side or the other, are your business, not our business," Burghardt said.

"But personally I have great faith that people will find ways to talk once again, just as they found a way in the past," he said. "Americans have always respected and been impressed by the ability of huaren [Chinese] on both sides of the Strait to find a way to talk with each other."

The AIT chairman made the remarks after Chen sought his views on two questions: whether the so-called "1992 consensus" actually existed and whether the Cairo Declaration was a legitimate document on which China could base a claim for sovereignty over Taiwan.

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