A senior White House official on Friday reiterated US calls for China to show flexibility in its relations with Taiwan, but did not comment on the latest remarks by Chinese Minister for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅), which were seen by some in Taiwan as conciliatory.
“We repeatedly encourage our friends in Beijing to show flexibility and creativity in cross-strait relations going forward,” US National Security Council Senior Director for Asian Affairs Daniel Kritenbrink said. “I’m hopeful that will continue.”
However, he said that he was not aware of what Wang had said.
Kritenbrink was responding to Taiwanese reporters’ questions after Wang referred to the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution and said that China hopes president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would stick to the Constitution, something she has pledged to do.
“She was elected on the basis of the current Constitution of Taiwan, which recognizes China and Taiwan are one,” Wang said earlier in the week during a visit to Washington.
“It would be difficult to imagine that someone who is elected on the basis of that Constitution should try to do anything in violation of the Constitution,” he said.
In addition to a rare reference to the ROC Constitution, Wang’s remarks were seen as conciliatory, primarily because he did not mention the so-called “1992 consensus.”
The “1992 consensus” refers to a supposed understanding reached during cross-strait talks in 1992 that both Taiwan and China acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
In 2006, former Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted he made up the term “1992 consensus” in 2000.
Tsai has refused to adopt the formula, but has instead promised to maintain the “status quo” under the framework of the ROC Constitution and not to provoke Beijing.
The MAC on Friday said that it welcomed Bejing’s move to face the ROC Constitution in a practical manner.
However, the MAC emphasized that the Taiwanese government has never accepted Beijing’s version of the “one China” principle.
Former MAC chief Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) said Wang’s comments indicated that Beijing is adjusting its attitude, no longer insisting on the term “1992 consensus,” and is willing to establish a new basis for cross-strait political interaction with the newly-elected government.
Former deputy legislative speaker Hung Hsiu-chu (洪秀柱) yesterday said that Wang’s remarks about the ROC Constitution were “a friendly move.”
“The ROC Constitution is the ‘one China’ principle, which is the gist of the ‘1992 consensus,’” she said.
Hung called on Tsai to abide by the ROC Constitutional framework and warned her against using the Constitution as a guise for stances such as “the ROC is Taiwan,” “the ROC on Taiwan” or “the ROC is Taiwan, Penghu, Kimen and Matsu,” which are all against the Constitution, Hung said.
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