The so-called “1992 consensus” should not be used as a campaign tool to threaten Taiwanese and it is not a prerequisite for cross-strait engagement as President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Beijing have said, academics said at a forum yesterday.
The consensus never existed and the international community, in particular the US, has never forced Taiwan to accept it as a precondition for further engagement across the Taiwan Strait, they said at a forum to examine the consensus. The conference was organized by the Taiwan Brain Trust, which is generally perceived to be more sympathetic to the pan-green camp.
The ratio of Taiwanese investment in China to Taiwan’s GDP increased from 0.5 percent in 2000 to 2.61 percent in 2008 — the period during which the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was in power, National Taiwan University professor Kenneth Lin (林向愷) said.
He said it was ironic that the DPP has been labeled as “turning its back on China,” and yet investment growth shows that the lack of a “1992 consensus” had no impact on bilateral trade liberalization.
Despite this, Ma’s Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and a group of Taiwanese businesspeople and investors in China have banded together to force the consensus on the Taiwanese public, he said.
The Ma campaign has recently focused its energy on the consensus, saying that denying its existence would put cross-strait peace in jeopardy, and threaten economic and political developments, Taiwan Brain Trust researcher Liu Shi-chung (劉世忠) said.
Ma has repeatedly said that China and the US have both accepted “one China, with different interpretations” as the basis of the “1992 consensus,” but Liu said “that was not the case as the US has maintained that it takes no position on the consensus and Beijing has never publicly supported Ma’s claim.”
Liu voiced concern that should Ma be re-elected, it might be interpreted as a public endorsement of the consensus.
The DPP’s attitude toward the consensus is based on three facts, said Lai I-chung (賴怡忠), a researcher at Taiwan Thinktank who is in charge of the DPP’s China policy.
“First, the 1992 meeting between Taiwan and China did take place, but no consensus was reached. Second, Beijing has never accepted Ma’s interpretation of the consensus as ‘one China, with different interpretations.’ Third, bilateral exchanges, such as meetings, the ‘small three links’ and direct charter flights were carried out without the ‘1992 consensus’ as a precondition,” he said.
“That shows it is possible for Taipei and Beijing to hold dialogue and engage with each other even without the ‘consensus,’” he said.
Although the DPP does not recognize the consensus, Tsai has refrained from making provocative comments and has extended an olive branch to Beijing during her campaign, including offering to hold talks with or visit China without any preconditions, he said.
Her policy has been more flexible than Ma’s, who has pledged he would neither negotiate with China on political affairs, including unification, nor meet with Chinese leaders if he is elected to a second term, Lai said.