Sun, May 25, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Ma calls on PRC to avoid disputes over sovereignty

SIGNALThe KMT sees Beijing’s willingness to meet its delegation amid the Sichuan quake crisis as a sign that it takes its relations with Taiwan very seriously

By Shih Hsiu-Chuan and Mo Yan-Chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday renewed his call on Beijing to set aside sovereignty disputes and reopen negotiations.

Ma, who took office last Tuesday, made the remarks at a tea gathering he organized for a group of senior Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) officials who will leave for China tomorrow.

KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄), who will head the delegation of 16 for the six-day visit, was invited by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

Ma asked that Wu share his ideas on cross-strait relations in his inauguration address with Hu.

“Leaders of both sides [of the Taiwan Strait] should have foresight and keep cross-strait relations in perspective. [Both leaders should] set aside their disputes and prioritize urgent and easy-to-resolve problems to move the cross-strait relationship forward,” Ma said.

Ma said his administration would like to resume negotiations with China based on the so-called “1992 consensus,” which stipulates that both sides of the strait uphold the “one China principle,” but have a different interpretation of what “one China” means. The “consensus,” however, is not universally recognized as valid in Taiwan.

Wu will first travel to Nanjing to pay homage to Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), founder of the KMT, to report on the party’s electoral victories. He will then head for Beijing for a meeting with Hu before moving on to Shanghai to thank Taiwanese businesspeople for their support.

Wu, who said he initially had doubts as to why Hu had chosen to receive the KMT delegation at a time when Beijing is tied up with earthquake relief in Sichuan Province, made inquiries with the Chinese side.

“They told us that the cross-strait problem is also of importance to them,” Wu said.

Former KMT chairman Lien Chan (連戰) visited China in April 2005, marking the first time in decades leaders of the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had met. During the visit, a KMT-CCP forum, which serves as a platform for both parties to discuss cross-strait issues, was created.

Ma said yesterday that Wu’s trip would be more significant as the KMT is now the ruling party.

Ma said he wished the KMT would continue with the KMT-CCP forum as it can act as a “second channel” to assist the official communication mechanism between the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.

At the meeting, Ma also expressed his wish to help survivors of the earthquake in Sichuan.

Later yesterday during a luncheon with retired KMT military officers in Taipei, Wu said his meeting with Hu would follow a “party-to-party” formula and help promote cross-strait relations. “I see my trip as a meeting between the KMT chairman and the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and hopefully our meeting will help President Ma Ying-jeou realize his cross-strait policies,” Wu said.

Among the reporters who are slated to travel with Wu to cover his China trip, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) rejected applications from the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper) and the Apple Daily.

TAO cited “personal matters” in its rejection of the Liberty Times, KMT spokeswoman Chen Shu-jung (陳淑蓉) said last night. Chen added that the TAO suggested the paper assign someone else.

“I was told that the Liberty Times has refused to assign another reporter,” Chen said.

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