Fri, May 23, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Ma welcomes Beijing's reaction

By Ko Shu-ling and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS, WITH AFP

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday welcomed Beijing’s response to his inaugural address and urged both sides to establish mutual trust and resume bilateral communications.

“Basically, it was a gesture of goodwill,” Ma said when asked for comment during his first press conference with the local press corps yesterday afternoon. “We hope to talk about issues of mutual concern.”

The head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Central Committee’s Taiwan Work Office, Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), said yesterday that both sides were making “positive” efforts to resume negotiations.

“Currently, good momentum is emerging in cross-strait relations, bringing a rare and important opportunity,” Chen was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.

“Both sides are making efforts to restart negotiations and discussions based on the ‘92 consensus, and are making relevant preparations,” he said.

The so-called “1992 consensus” describes the notion that both sides concede separate interpretations of the “one China” policy, but it is not universally recognized as valid in Taiwan.

Chen’s remarks were China’s first response to Ma’s inauguration speech on Tuesday, in which he offered to reopen dialogue based on the “1992 consensus” and promised not to enter an arms race with China.

“We understand, trust and care about Taiwan compatriots and respect the desire of Taiwan compatriots to be masters of their own destiny,” Chen said before adding that China would “continue to oppose and contain ‘Taiwan.”

He said China would not abandon its “fundamental policy of realizing peaceful unification of the motherland.”

Ma said yesterday that cross-strait relations had stagnated over the past eight years.

He urged Beijing to seize an “historic opportunity” and work for the common well-being of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Ma said the second track of communications between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the CCP will complement the inefficiency of the official channel.

In a press release responding to Chen’s comments, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said it was pleased to see Beijing’s resolve to “set aside differences, strive for a double win “as the preface to resuming cross-strait dialogues.

The council said Taiwan has already set up appropriate mechanisms to allow the talks to resume and hopes the goals of commencing weekend direct charter flights and allowing Chinese tourists to come to Taiwan would be reached by July as anticipated.

Director of the KMT’s Mainland Affairs Department, Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭), said KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung’s (吳伯雄) visit to China next Monday highlighted both sides’ intention to ignore controversial issues, seek more consensus and create a win-win situation through frequent negotiations.

Wu will head a 16-member KMT delegation on a six-day trip to China, during which he is scheduled to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

KMT Legislator John Chiang (蔣孝嚴), a member of the legislature’s Diplomacy and National Defense Committee, said Chen’s remarks conveyed positive messages about the development of cross-strait relations.

“I believe the negotiations between the Mainland Affairs Council and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait [ARATS] that have been suspended for a long time will soon be resumed,” he said.

KMT Legislator Lee Chia-chin (李嘉進), who is close to the new Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤), said Chen’s remarks were equivalent to a “gift” and “goodwill” to Wu.

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