Newly inaugurated Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) yesterday urged the public to stop fixating on the so-called “1992 consensus,” saying that cross-strait issues should be dealt with through laws.
At his first question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei during a meeting of the Internal Administration Committee, Chen, who took office on Monday, was pressed by several Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers about his stance on the “1992 consensus.”
Due to the refusal of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration to acknowledge the “1992 consensus,” cross-strait exchanges have come to a standstill, leaving “staff at the council and the [semi-official] Straits Exchange Foundation with almost nothing to do,” KMT Legislator Sra Kacaw said.
Asked by Sra Kacaw how he intended to further cross-strait ties without embracing the “1992 consensus,” Chen said: “The content of the ‘1992 consensus’ has been debated in Taiwanese society. The public and I are perfectly aware of the KMT’s support for the concept of ‘one China, different interpretations,’ but there are also people who do not believe it exists.”
The Tsai administration’s guiding principle is to deal with cross-strait affairs through laws, including the Constitution and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), said Chen, who led the council from April 2007 to May 2008 under then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Several breakthroughs in cross-strait relations were made during negotiations that adhered to those two laws, he said, adding that insistence on gluing cross-strait relations to a “controversial noun” would only tie the government’s hands.
“How much longer is our society going to fixate on the term?” Chen asked.
The “1992 consensus,” a term former council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
However, Beijing has never acknowledged the “different interpretations” part and has only mentioned the “one China” element in its references to the “1992 consensus.”
During the session, lawmakers also expressed concern about possible reactions from Beijing over an ongoing visit by Alex Wong (黃之瀚), deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
Wong is the first US official to arrive following the enactment on Friday last week of the US’ Taiwan Travel Act, which encourages visits by high-level US and Taiwanese officials.
The US factor has always played a significant role in cross-strait relations, Chen said.
“Of course Beijing is going to react and we have to anticipate what kind of reactions it will have,” Chen said, but added that it was too soon to tell, as a series of multilayered incidents are likely to follow.
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