The new year will be devoted to building consensus, both domestically and across the Taiwan Strait, according to the Mainland Affairs Council, the government body in charge of relations with China.
The council released a press statement yesterday following the president's first speech of the year. President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said he would work hard in 2005 to narrow the divide between the opposing political camps.
"The Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development will serve as a venue for progress toward increased bipartisan consensus," Council Vice Chairman and spokesman Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said.
"It is the president's duty to strike a balance in a multifaceted society, and it is the government's job to promote national unity. In the future, the government will take measures to obtain a consensus on cross-strait issues," the statement read, echoing Chen's call for a "new era of consultation and dialogue" between the pan-blue and pan-green camps.
Chen had previously pledged to invite leaders from all political parties to participate on the Committee for Cross-Strait Peace and Development after the legislative elections. The council said in the statement that Chen had instructed that all appropriate agencies take preparatory measures toward the establishment of the committee. The council also vowed to begin mapping out a plan of action and invite input on how to proceed from various relevant agencies. The council, however, did not elaborate on which agencies it would be talking to. "In my opinion, the committee will be launched sometime in February or March. By then the new appointments in the Cabinet will be clear," Chiu said.
Meanwhile, Chiu called for an increased consensus with China, saying that cross-strait efforts should be made under the framework of peace.
"Right now, both sides want peace ... it is under this consensus that we need to work," Chiu said.
Chiu highlighted Chen's vow to "[keep] a firm stance while moving forward pragmatically," and calling on China to respect the will of the Taiwanese. Chiu was responding to Chinese President Hu Jintao's (