President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) special envoy to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting yesterday said the “one China” principle has been the overarching policy driving cross-strait interactions and, thus, any derivative of the guidelines used to describe cross-strait relations would be a “side issue.”
Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰), who is to leave on Thursday next week to attend the two-day 20th APEC summit in Vladivostok, Russia, called a press conference to outline his mission, which has been commissioned by Ma.
In response to a media inquiry about the “two sides, one country” (兩岸一國), formula reportedly adopted by China to characterize cross-strait relations, Lien said that terming cross-strait relations is “a matter of indifference.”
The “one China” principle has served as a basic, non-negotiable building block upon which Taiwan and China have made tremendous strides in relations over the years, despite the fact that its meaning is interpreted differently by both sides, Lien said.
What is important for Taiwan and China has been that “we have a consensus on the principle,” he said.
Taiwan’s leaders are barred from APEC summits due to objections from China.
Lien said he has scheduled a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) on the sidelines of the event, as he had done in the past four years, while arrangements on bilateral talks with leaders from countries including the US, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand, among others, are underway.
He made the remarks when asked how he would react should Hu bring up the “two sides, one country” concept during their meeting.
The Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper), reported that China plans to place cross-strait relations under the “two sides, one country” framework because it is growing impatient with the so-called “1992 consensus,” which the Ma administration ways was “one China, with each side having its own interpretation.”
The Liberty Times report was based on the biweekly newsletter on the situation in China published by the KMT’s Central Policy Committee.
The party said in its newsletter that the recent remarks made by Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference chairman Jia Qinglin (賈慶林) when he stated that “both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to ‘one country,’ rather than ... belong to ‘one China’” indicate the direction in which China is intending to steer its Taiwan policy after the 18th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party where political power is set to be transferred from Hu to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平).
Lien said he did not consider the APEC summit as an appropriate occasion to talk about political issues with Hu, adding that he expected to reflect on past cross-strait relations and discuss issues to be addressed in the future during their meeting. He did not elaborate.
On economic issues, Lien said he is set to express at the summit the desire of Taiwan to join the emerging regional free trade schemes — the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the ASEAN-centered Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), both initiatives seek to create the Free-Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.
“We will make it clear to the US that we wish to join the TPP. In addition to that, Taiwan has enjoyed cordial relationships and frequent interactions with ASEAN countries. We hope that ASEAN countries can pay greater attention to Taiwan so that we can take part in the formation [of the RCEP],” Lien said.