Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) on Saturday called on Taiwanese businesspeople operating in China — commonly known as Taishang — to make “wise” and “important” choices in next month’s presidential election.
Chiang said cross-strait relations were presently at a crucial juncture and that Taiwan, in particular Taishang, cannot afford “retrogression” of the “hard-earned” cross-strait rapprochement that has been achieved since President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in 2008.
The future of Taishang’s operations in China relies heavily on the foundation’s negotiations with Beijing on the basis of the (so-called) “1992 consensus,” Chiang said.
He was referring to the alleged tacit understanding between Taiwan and China allegedly reached in 1992 that there is only one China, with each side free to interpret what that means.
Based on the “1992 consensus,” the administration has concluded 16 agreements with China over the past three years, including the opening of direct cross-strait air and sea links, the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement and a cross-strait financial pact, which he said has helped to meet Taishangs’ needs for funds and loans.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has been using “the 1992 consensus” as the foundation for negotiations with China. The consensus was supposedly reached during the first cross-strait talks in 1992, but then-Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) later admitted to coining the term in 2000.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) denies the existence of the consensus, as does former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who was in office when the consensus was allegedly reached.
Refusing to recognize the “1992 consensus,” DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has advocated a “Taiwan consensus” as part of her election campaign.
“Because you are smart, I believe you know who you should vote for,” Chiang told Taishang representatives.
Chiang made his pitch for KMT support at an event that marked the installment of a new president of a Taiwanese investors’ association in Kunshan, near Shanghai, where many Taishang manufacturing operations are located.
Lee Kuan-hsin (李寬信), the newly elected head of the Kunshan association, said that as far as he knows, about 80 percent of Taishang companies in the Kunshan area would give their Taiwanese staff paid leave to return home for the Jan. 14 presidential and legislative elections.
The elections will be held shortly before Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 22 next year.
Lee said a number of Taishang have been unable to obtain flights home because of a shortage of seats. There is high demand because a majority of Taishang would like to return to Taiwan for the elections as well as the Lunar New Year holiday, he said.
Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland chairman Kuo Shan-hui (郭山輝) said at least 200,000 Taishang working around China would return to Taiwan to vote.
“The shortage of seats is especially keen in Suzhou, Shanghai and Dongguan,” Kuo said.
He urged the government to help convince the airlines to make more seats available on the cross-strait route before Jan. 14.