China’s top Taiwan policymaker yesterday said it was important that Beijing and Taipei address issues to “consolidate the political foundation” for the continued peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait.
“The cross-strait relationship has entered a new era over the years based on the [so-called] ‘1992 consensus’... Despite recent twists and turns, both sides should be committed to developing and further consolidating the political foundation” to continue to promote cross-strait exchanges in various fields, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) was quoted as saying on the first day of his visit to Taiwan.
TAO spokesperson Ma Xiao-guang (馬曉光) conveyed the remarks at a press conference following Zhang’s two-hour closed-door meeting with Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦).
In Zhang’s opening remarks to the press, he said that China and Taiwan have to “increase mutual political trust” so that they can proceed in the right path to promoting the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.
The “1992 consensus” refers to a supposed understanding reached in 1992 between Taiwanese and Chinese representatives, under which both sides acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “one China” means.
Zhang’s statements appear to contain a bid for political talks with Taiwan, but at a separate press conference where Wang fielded questions from reporters, the MAC minister denied that Zhang brought up political issues during the meeting.
Zhang’s trip follows a visit by Wang to China in February. That was part of efforts on both sides to establish a system of regular visits by officials and normalize communication channels between the TAO and the MAC.
The reciprocal visit by Zhang was an “important step” toward building government-to-government contact to deal with cross-strait issues, Wang and Zhang said, adding that the two sides would continue to arrange similar visits.
In Wang’s opening remarks, he said he hoped Zhang could experience Taiwan’s energetic and diverse society during his stay. He also urged Zhang and his delegation to “listen to Taiwanese people, understand their lifestyle and respect their decisions.”
At the post-meeting press conference, Wang said he reiterated during the meeting the government’s position that “the future of Taiwan has to be decided by its 23 million people per the Constitution of the Republic of China.”
Wang said he told Zhang that the government’s position is a “consensus” of Taiwanese society and hoped that Beijing would respect it.
Wang was responding to a recent comment made by TAO spokesperson Fan Liqing (范麗青), who said that the future of Taiwan should be decided by all Chinese, including people in Taiwan.
Fan’s remarks sparked a furious response from many Taiwanese. Asked whether Zhang has noticed these reactions, Ma said China’s position on issues related to its territorial integrity is clear, consistent and firm.
Wang added that Zhang agreed to two demands that Taiwan has long made: After Taiwan and China establish reciprocal representative offices across the Strait, the offices should be endowed with the right to visit prisoners detained or jailed on the other side and China should allow its tourists to transit through Taiwan en route to other countries.