President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended his use of the “one country, two areas (一國兩區)” formula for defining cross-strait relations, saying the “one Republic of China (ROC), two areas (一個中華民國，兩個地區)” concept is the foundation for cross-strait relations as defined by the ROC Constitution.
The “one ROC, two areas” concept has allowed Taiwan and China to push forward cross-strait exchanges under the formula of “mutual non-denial” — not denying China’s existence and not recognizing its sovereignty — Ma said, adding that the concept is compatible with the “1992 -consensus,” which the government says is an agreement between Taiwan and China that each side recognizes the existence of “one China,” but holds its own interpretation of what “one China” means.
“The ROC Constitution is the ultimate source in promoting cross-strait relations and foreign relations ... Our experience in the past four years has also proved that promoting cross-strait relations under this formula is practical, and has helped Taiwan expand its international space,” Ma told a group of legal experts at the Presidential Office.
Ma discussed the concept one day after China’s Taiwan Affairs Office commented on his May 20 inaugural speech. Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Yang Yi (楊毅) reiterated the “one China” framework and said the relationship between the two sides was not “nation to nation.”
At a regular press conference on Wednesday, Yang said the cross-strait relationship was different from that of the former East and West Germany, referring to Ma’s mentioning of the 1972 “Basis of Relations Agreement between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Democratic Republic of Germany” as the basis for the principle of “mutual denial of each other’s sovereignty rights and mutual non-denial of each side’s authority to govern” between Taiwan and China.
Ma discussed the situation in Germany when attending a legal conference on May 24, saying that Germany’s 1972 agreement replaced “sovereignty” with “supreme power” and held a distinction between “sovereignty” and “authority to govern.”
In his inaugural speech Ma stressed the cross-strait “status quo” in addressing cross-strait relations. However, instead of repeating “one country, two areas” and that the two sides belonged to “one China,” he said the “one ROC, two areas” concept was the unchanged cross-strait definition under the Constitution.
Ma yesterday emphasized Taiwan’s democratic development and said the presidential election, which was broadcast in China, allowed Chinese to witness Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and promoted cross-strait dialogue on democracy.
He also promised that his administration would continue to pay close attention to human rights and legal justice in China as an effort to narrow the gap between the two sides in terms of democratic development and respect for human rights.