Wed, Apr 02, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Chen, Ma meet at Taipei Guest House

MANO A MANO The outgoing president and the president-elect sat down for 90 minutes yesterday, but failed to see eye-to-eye on the so-called '1992 consensus'

By Ko Shu-ling and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) met president-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday and the two crossed swords over the legitimacy of the "1992 consensus."

"It is a serious matter," Chen said. "It is wishful thinking to believe that China would agree that both sides have their own interpretation of `one China.'"

Chen said he would like to know whether Ma would violate his pledge of putting Taiwan first and serving the interest of Taiwanese if China did not accept "each side having its own interpretation."

Chen made the remarks during a meeting with Ma at the Taipei Guest House yesterday morning. They talked for 90 minutes, with the first hour open to the media. The two had last met on April 3, 2006, at the Presidential Office after Ma returned from a trip to the US.

Chen said yesterday that no consensus was reached during the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong, adding that China had not agreed that both sides can have their own interpretation of "one China."

"Please do not overly interpret, twist or falsify history," he said.

Three uncertainties surround the resumption of talks on the basis of the "1992 consensus" as Ma has suggested, Chen said.

First, it is uncertain whether the "1992 consensus" actually exists. Second, its contents remain uncertain and third, it is impossible to know what will happen in future.

Chen said that both former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and late Straits Exchange Foundation chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) denied the existence of the "1992 consensus," while Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Su Chi (蘇起) admitted that he had made up the term in 2000, before the KMT handed over power to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Chen said.

Su said he had invented the term in order to break the cross-strait deadlock and alleviate tensions, but Lee said he was unaware as to when the term was invented.

The KMT has insisted that some "consensus" had been reached between Taiwan and China during a meeting in Hong Kong in November 1992 to the effect that both sides should adhere to the "one China" principle, with each side having its own interpretation.

The DPP, however, insists that no such consensus exists.

Ma proposed resuming talks with China on the basis of the "1992 consensus" in the run-up to the election.

In a telephone conversation on March 26, US President George W. Bush urged Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to use Taiwan's presidential election to take positive actions to peacefully resolve cross-strait tensions. In response, Hu appeared to show willingness to reopen cross-strait talks on the basis of the so-called "1992 consensus."

It would be difficult to use the "1992 consensus" as the foundation for cross-strait talks, Chen said. He added, however, that he was not against the idea of giving it a try, but that extra caution should be taken.

Chen told Ma that bilateral negotiations must be conducted under four principles: sovereignty, democracy, peace and equality.

Chen said that although he recognized the preconditions Ma had set for the resumption of talks with Beijing, Ma must heed China's three-stage military preparation for war with Taiwan.

Ma has asked China to dismantle missiles targeted at Taiwan before both sides can talk.

While Ma has proposed that both sides adopt the concept of “mutual non-denial,” Chen said yesterday that Taiwan has never denied China’s existence.

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