Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that reaching an agreement based on "mutual non-denial" between Taiwan and China was a sophisticated and practical approach in attempting to improve cross-strait relations.
During a speech given at a forum on cross-strait peace at National Chung Hsing University in Taichung, Ma said the problem with cross-strait relations lies in the fact that both sides cannot agree on whether they are two independent countries or one.
"But this is merely a matter of `format.' The two sides of the [Taiwan] Strait cannot show flexibility for each other unless both do not deny the other's existence," he told the attendees.
Ma also criticized President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who has said that Ma's "mutual non-denial" proposition was "naive." He said the president had a serious misunderstanding of his approach.
Although it remains impossible for Taiwan and China to officially recognize each other, both sides should at least stop denying the existence of each other, he said.
Ma first proposed the approach during his trip to India, where he said the KMT supports the idea of each side of the Strait having its own interpretation of "one China." He said that as long as China and Taiwan could reach a status of what he termed "mutual non-denial," they would spontaneously refer back to the so-called "1992 consensus."
Ma also said that he already considers the proposed cross-strait direct transport links "cross-strait routes" and therefore the problem as to whether the direct links would be international or domestic routes has been solved.
Economic and democratic development is Taiwan's edge over China, Ma said, but China's economic growth and significance should not be overlooked.
Ma told the audience that the nation has to improve its investment environment so that Taiwan and China can resolve the military confrontation crisis and build peaceful and stable cross-strait relations through better economic and cultural exchanges.
Asked for comments on Ma's cross-strait policies yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) pointed to Ma's lack of experience when handling issues involving cross-strait relations.
"Ma should not have revealed his bottom line [in cross-strait talks] too openly because doing so will only put Taiwan in a disadvantageous position when we conduct negotiations with China," he said in Penghu.
"All one has to say now is `Taiwan will have more open policies,'" he said.
Answering an inquiry on opening up direct transport links between Taiwan and China, Hsieh said the links should be allowed under certain conditions and that Taiwan should play the leading role in any negotiations with Beijing. He did not elaborate further on the conditions.
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