Amid recent discussions over the existence of the so-called “1992 consensus,” President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said that even former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) expressed a willingness to conditionally accept the consensus, while reiterating the Ma government’s support of the concept as the basis for cross-strait development.
Citing what he said was a press release issued by the Presidential Office in 2000 when Chen met with representatives from US Asia Foundation, Ma said Chen told the group that his administration was willing to accept the consensus reached by Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, which is “one China, with each side having its own interpretation.”
Chen also told the group that China did not acknowledge the consensus and offer its own “one China” policy, Ma said, adding that soon after Chen made the remarks, then-chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) held a press conference to deny the comments.
The “1992 consensus” refers to an agreement Ma and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) claim was reached by Taiwan and China in 1992, to the effect that each side recognized “one China,” but would retain their individual interpretations of what that meant.
“I met with former president Chen after a visit to the US in 2006 and told him [taking the 1992 consensus as the basis for cross-strait development] is feasible. He made it clear that if the mainland accepted the concept, he would respect it,” Ma said.
Insisting that Chen was willing to conditionally acknowledge the existence of the “1992 consensus, “Ma said that supporting the consensus was to support the Republic of China (ROC) and the development of cross-strait relations as -defined by the ROC Constitution.
“As president of the ROC, I of course support the ROC ... The two sides of the Taiwan Strait are both aware that unification is not open to discussion, but we can definitely promote cross-strait developments in other aspects,” he added.
Ma’s comments came in the wake of disputes over the existence of the consensus after Tsai, currently the DPP chairperson and presidential candidate, denied the existence of the consensus when she publicized her cross-strait policies on Tuesday.
Tsai said the term “1992 consensus” did not exist until 2000 when then-MAC chairman Su Chi (蘇起) invented it, shortly before the KMT handed over power to the DPP.
Ma yesterday said that without the consensus, there would be no foundation for cross-strait negotiations. He said his administration would continue to adopt the consensus as cross-strait relations developed, seeking to maintain the status quo while pushing for cross-strait exchanges in economics, education and culture.
In response, DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) accused Ma of distorting Chen Shui-bian’s remarks about the “1992 Consensus.”
Chen Chi-mai said then-MAC chairwoman Tsai had expounded on Chen Shui-bian’s comments, by which Chen Shui-bian meant that the conclusion of the 1992 cross-strait talks resulted in “each side says what they want to say (各說各話).”
Chen Chi-mai added that the then-Presidential Office had also elaborated on Chen Shui-bian’s remarks, saying that he believed that Taiwan could talk with Beijing about the one China principle, but that that did not mean Taiwan was willing to accept the one China principle, particularly if China insisted that the only China was the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and that Taiwan is part of the PRC.