Tue, Apr 23, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Sovereignty not up for discussion: MAC

CLARIFICATION:MAC Minister Chen Ming-tong said the government has not discussed some old proposals for Taiwan-China relations that he mentioned in a media interview

By Chung Li-hua and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong speaks during a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times

While the nature of the cross-strait relationship could be discussed, the nation’s sovereignty is not up for discussion, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) said after he was pressed to expand upon comments he made in an interview published yesterday in the Liberty Times (the sister newspaper of the Taipei Times).

There have been suggestions in the past that Taiwan and China could consider an EU-type model, a pact between independent nations, or a “nations of brotherhood” (兄弟之邦) framework, Chen said.

While he respects these proposals, the Democratic Progressive Party government has not formally discussed them, he said.

“As long as our sovereignty, freedoms and democracy are preserved, there are many possibilities,” he said.

Determining the future of the cross-strait relationship would depend on collective intelligence and a social consensus, he added.

Chen’s interview was conducted on Friday, ahead of the Legislative Yuan’s scheduled review yesterday of the Executive Yuan’s draft amendment to the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) that would require additional legislative steps before negotiations on the nature of the Taiwan-China relationship could take place.

Citing the Council of Grand Justices’ Constitutional Interpretation No. 499, issued in 2000, Chen told the Liberty Times that officials in a constitutional government must abide by the duties of their offices as laid out in the Constitution.

There were limits to how much the Republic of China’s Constitution could be amended, he said.

The Executive Yuan’s bill — which states that cross-strait agreements cannot impact the nation’s sovereignty or the freedoms and democracy of its people — was in the spirit of that interpretation, he said.

Sovereignty is the foundation of a nation and necessary for it to conduct legislative and judicial processes, and administrative, military and foreign affairs, he said.

Sovereignty is also important from an economic perspective as it allows a nation to determine tariffs and the issuing of currency, which come into play when negotiating with international organizations, such as the WTO, he said.

These are sovereign actions made on the basis of having sovereignty, so “sovereignty” and “sovereign actions” should not be confused with each other, he told the newspaper.

The proposed amendment was about ensuring the ROC’s sovereignty and its Constitution, but did not mean that the door was being shut on the possibility of discussing the cross-strait political relationship in the future, he said.

Former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), who is seeking the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) nomination for next year’s presidential election, yesterday criticized Chen for mentioning others’ proposals, which he called a “fantasy.”

Chen should “speak in a more pragmatic way,” Chu said.

Additional reporting by Wang Hsiu-ting

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