The heads of cross-strait affairs in Taiwan and China had a conversation yesterday via a newly installed telephone hotline connecting the two sides of the Strait, during which they discussed recent developments in cross-strait relations, following rumors that the Chinese side has refused to answer calls since the Jan. 16 presidential and legislative elections.
During the conversation, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) exchanged Lunar New Year greetings.
It was the first time Hsia and Zhang used the hotline since the Jan. 16 elections, in which president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidency and the party gained a legislative majority.
Hsia told Zhang that peaceful and stable development of cross-strait ties is the hope of people across party lines in Taiwan, and that both sides of the Strait should maintain and cherish the achievements made so far, a statement issued by the council said.
Expanding and deepening cross-strait engagement would help improve mutual trust and understanding, Hsia said, adding that both sides should avoid actions that could escalate tensions, but instead promote a healthy relationship.
The conversation came one day after Zhang issued a Lunar New Year message in which he lauded the achievements in the development of cross-strait ties and expressed hope that the two sides would continue to work together to maintain peace across the strait in the coming year, basing their efforts on the so-called “1992 consensus,” a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides of the Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means. Former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted making up the term in 2000.
The DPP has refused to recognize the existence of any such consensus.
There have been concerns that relations across the Taiwan Strait would deteriorate under Tsai’s administration, since the DPP is known for its pro-Taiwan independence stance.
Tsai, without using the term “1992 consensus,” has said that she “understands and respects” the “historic fact” that Taiwan and China “reached some common acknowledgments and understanding in 1992.”
In an interview with the Liberty Times (sister newspaper of the Taipei Times) late last month, Tsai said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would need to work hard to build a “consistent, predictable and sustainable” relationship.
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