Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said yesterday that the KMT administration and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) are too optimistic on cross-strait relations.
Cheng’s comments came after Lai made a speech to Taiwanese expatriates in New York on Saturday in which she talked about President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) cross-strait policy of “mutual non-denial” and said the signing of an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China would not affect the nation’s sovereignty or touch on independence or unification issues, or any other political prerequisite.
Cheng said that Taiwan does not deny China’s existence, but that Beijing denies Taiwan’s existence and would never change its position. He said the government was able to resume cross-strait talks because it accepts Beijing’s “one-China” principle and does not challenge Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China.
The DPP believes the government’s cross-strait policies are jeopardizing Taiwan’s sovereignty and dignity, he added.
Lai said that the government’s proposed signing of an ECFA with China would not affect Taiwan’s sovereignty. However, Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) has previously said an ECFA could only proceed only under the “one-China” principle and that a cross-strait economic agreement would promote unification, Cheng said.
The DPP urged the government not to avoid these important issues and to stop lying to the public, Cheng added.
During Saturday’s speech, Lai said “Taiwan has no timetable” for starting political talks with China.
She said although cross-strait relations have improved substantially over the past 13 months, that did not mean the two sides have built “mutual trust.”
“Conditions for talks on political issues have not yet matured and we are in no hurry for that to happen,” Lai said.
Lai said officials from both sides have engaged in institutional dialogue via the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) over the past year, which shows that cross-strait relations have evolved from “mutual denial” to “mutual non-denial.”
“It marks a major achievement in cross-strait relations,” she said.
Lai said both sides should adopt a policy of “putting aside their differences” and “mutual non-denial” in order to face the reality across the Taiwan Strait in a pragmatic manner.
On the economy, Lai said exports were Taiwan’s lifeline and the nation has to face up to globalization and the formation of new regional economic blocs. She said Taiwan cannot afford to ignore China’s rise.
Lai said an ECFA is neither an indenture by which Taiwan will sell itself to China nor a panacea for Taiwan’s sagging economy.
“The aim of signing an ECFA with China is to pursue normal business activities with China on an equal footing and devise the basic principles for normalizing cross-strait trade relations,” she said.
However, Lai said that talks on signing an ECFA would not be included on the agenda of the next meeting between SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), scheduled for the end of the year.
“Cross-strait talks on an ECFA are not expected to begin until next year,” she said.
Lai, who arrived in New York on Friday, is scheduled to visit the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and the National Committee on US-China Relations, two New York-based think tanks, for closed-door meetings. She is also scheduled to deliver a speech on the latest developments in cross-strait relations at the Brookings Institute in Washington.