Mon, Oct 31, 2016 - Page 3 News List

INTERVIEW: Former minister unravels ‘1992 consensus’ mystery

Former Mainland Affairs Council minister Chen Ming-tung recently spoke with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister paper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporter Tzou Jiing-wen and said that the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ is a fabrication, and that Beijing’s unwillingness to accept the sovereignty of the Republic of China is what has ultimately led to the current impasse in cross-strait relations

Liberty Times (LT): Since the transfer of power on May 20, China has used the so-called “1992 consensus” as the precondition for continued cross-strait dialogue. What are your thoughts?

Chen Ming-tung (陳明通): On July 20, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) published an article titled The Origins of the 1992 Consensus, which to my knowledge is the first time the Chinese Communists explained, in any detail, their assertion of the existence of the so-called “1992 consensus.”

From the perspective of rational dialogue, we welcome such explanations, but I must emphatically state that its conclusion that “since then, both sides have acknowledged a consensus that was formed following the negotiations and that consensus was known as the ‘1992 consensus’ at a later time,” is an erroneous assertion that does not agree with historical facts.

This conclusion is based on the preceding narration: “On Nov. 16, [1992] the [Chinese] Association for Relations Across the Straits [ARATS] filed a missive to the [Taiwanese] Straits Exchange Foundation [SEF] and represented the ARATS’ position, which ARATS is to read aloud as ‘Both sides across the Strait should insist on the “one China” principle and endeavor toward national unification. But in cross-strait negotiations, the meaning of “one China” is not be involved.’ [Production of] notarized documents [or other negotiated affairs] are to be conducted in that spirit.”

This missive had, via an attachment, presented Proposition No. 8, which the SEF proposed in Hong Kong as the material basis of a consensus to which both sides are to agree. On Dec. 3 [1992], the SEF replied with a missive that stated “it has no objections.” This is the rationale for the Chinese claim.

However, the narration claimed that on Nov. 16 [1992], ARATS proposed the “one China” principle be stated orally, which was a new proposal distinct from the five propositions that the ARATS made in Hong Kong; I will refer to it as Proposition No. 6 for convenience. It attached to its missive the SEF’s Proposition No. 8, which was made in Hong Kong, in hopes that we are to “acknowledge it as the formal proposition of the party representing Taiwan.”

Assuming that the SEF’s response on Dec. 3 was a statement of no objection, or that it had acknowledged the previous communication, then it could be said that the two had reached a consensus in how each side would each interpret the “one China” policy.

The interpretation we are to read is based on Proposition No. 8 that the SEF made in Hong Kong, while our opposite number is to read an interpretation based on Proposition No. 6, which was found in the ARATS’ missive.

However, the SEF’s response on Dec. 3 did not explicitly acknowledge ARATS’ Proposition No. 6. Instead, it reiterated our commitment to make our interpretation according to Proposition No. 9, which the SEF made on Nov. 3.

It said: “We will interpret the meaning of the ‘one China’ principle according to the Guidelines for National Unification, and the statement made on Aug. 1 this year by the National Unification Council.”

The reply, broadly reported by the media in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China, further emphasized that “our position on this matter has been clarified repeatedly on previous occasions.”

Beijing might say it believes Taiwan did not make any comments in reference to ARATS’ Proposition No. 6 and characterize Taiwan’s response as “having no objections,” but how could Beijing claim Taiwan had no objections in response to its Proposition No. 8, then go on to impute an acknowledgment from our side?

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