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

“The problem lies with China, which has never recognized Taiwan and considers us to be one of its provinces or a special administrative region,” he said.

In response to Chen’s questions about the “1992 consensus,” Ma said that although both sides of the Taiwan Strait did not sign an official agreement, cross-strait telegraphs on Nov. 3, Nov. 4 and Nov. 16, 1992, could prove the existence of the consensus.

“There is also other important historical evidence of the existence of the consensus. Without it, it would have been impossible for the meeting between Koo and [Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits chairman] Wang Daohan (汪道涵) to take place in 1993,” he said.

Ma said he had emphasized since 2001 that cross-strait dialogue would not be possible unless both sides “returned to the ‘1992 consensus.’” Ma said the communiques between China and other countries also showed that many countries interpreted “one China” differently because they used different terms, such as “acknowledge,” “take notice of,” or “understand and respect,” to describe their views on China’s claims of sovereignty over Taiwan.

Ma said he would not negotiate with China if the latter denied that both sides across the Taiwan Strait can have different interpretations of what “one China” means.

“It’s our turn to run the government. We will continue to take a ‘Taiwan-centric’ approach. We will not change our view of the nation’s status,” he said.

Ma assured Chen that he would not “ruin” the administration Chen hands over to him.

“It is impossible for me to sell out Taiwan. I do not love Taiwan any less than you do,” Ma said.

“We will not give up the sovereignty we have defended for so many years. We will safeguard our sovereignty and I believe we can make it,” he said.

“If you still do not believe what I just said, I’ll send you a book and mark the paragraph [that mentions the consensus],” he said.

Ma also vowed to downplay “politically sensitive issues” and make it a priority to improve people’s living standards and the economy.

Chen also told Ma there would be no surprises before he hands over power on May 20.

He said that some people have expressed concern that he would say or do something dramatic before he leaves office, but he promised he would not do so.

Chen said he had promised the US and the international community that as long as China did not intend to use military force against Taiwan, he would not declare independence, hold referendums on the nation’s statehood, seek constitutional change, or change national symbols. Abolishing the National Unification Council and Unification Guidelines would also not be on the agenda.

He did not violate the promises he made over the past eight years and would not do so before he leaves office on May 20, he said.

“I am as good as my word,” he said.

Chen asked the public to refrain from reading too much into the timing of yesterday’s meeting, which fell on April Fool’s Day. He would be happy to meet Ma again at the president-elect’s convenience should Ma need any help, he said.

Chen said that with the end of his term, he hoped the infighting between those supporting and opposing him would come to an end. He hoped history would not repeat itself and that forces supporting and opposing Ma would not appear in future.

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