The rhetorical battle over the so-called “1992 consensus” continued over the weekend while Typhoon Nanmadol approached Taiwan, with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) taking the lead, accusing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of refusing to accept the consensus.
At a press conference on Sunday, Ma described the DPP and DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), his rival in the presidential election in January, as “irrational,” saying they had denied the existence of the consensus simply because they opposed it.
Many officials and academics, including Ma and former representatives to the US Stephen Chen (陳錫蕃) and Lu Yi-cheng (陸以正), labeled the “Taiwan consensus” proposed by Tsai as “ambiguous” and “infeasible,” while underlining the importance of the “1992 consensus” as the foundation of cross-strait engagement.
Ma also challenged Tsai’s cross-strait platform, urging her to clarify whether she supported the “three noes” and to explain “more clearly” what she means by “Taiwan consensus.”
The “three noes” refer to no discussion of unification with Beijing, no pursuit of, or support for, de jure Taiwanese independence and no use of force to resolve cross-strait disputes.
The DPP and Tsai chose to remain silent and refrain from engaging in extended argument while Typhoon Nanmadol pounded the south. Nonetheless, discussions about the consensus were all over the print and broadcast media.
The “1992 consensus” was an “artificial term invented” after a meeting between the semi-official representatives of Taiwan and China in 1992 and “historically speaking, the ‘1992 consensus’ does not exist,” said Hung Chi-chang (洪奇昌), a Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) chairman under the former DPP administration.
The consensus, even if it existed, was based on the “one China” principle, he said, adding that “the DPP argues that a new term, a new platform or a new framework has to be established.”
The world has changed so much between 1992 — when China was about to get its feet wet in a market economy — and now, when China has become arguably one of the global powers, Hung said.
“China’s role in the world, its economic power and the global situation, have all changed. That is why the DPP thinks a new platform is necessary,” he said.
China should not panic about the new framework, he said, because Tsai has made it clear that a Taiwan consensus that the DPP proposes would be based on “peace and stability” as the foundation of future cross-strait exchanges.
Hung also advised the Chinese to recognize the goodwill extended by Tsai when she said the DPP “acknowledges” China’s position in insisting on the “one China” principle and suggested that her party would be far less hostile than before, he said.
The “1992 consensus” was an idea accepted by then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰) and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Secretary-General Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) in their meeting in 2005 under the “one China” principle, and was not authorized by representatives from the two governments across the Taiwan Strait, Hung said.
“When you go back and force Taiwanese to accept the idea, people would think that the KMT is on the same side with the CCP, which I don’t think serves the KMT’s interests,” he said.
“I would say that the DPP should be on the offensive rather the defensive end on the issue [of the ‘1992 consensus’]. The DPP should ask China to explain what exactly the ‘1992 consensus’ is,” said Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), a political scientist at Soochow University and a DPP legislative candidate.