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KMT rhetoric misleading: academics

‘MANIPULATION’:Many Taiwanese do not know what the ‘1992 consensus’ means, and even within the KMT there are different understandings of it, one researcher said

By Chung Li-hua  /  Staff reporter

Former president Ma Ying-jeou attends a forum at Soochow University in Taipei on Jan. 3.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

The return of the so-called “1992 consensus” in political rhetoric after Nov. 24’s local elections is the result of an attempt by the pan-blue camp to mislead Taiwanese, academics have said.

After the local elections, Kaohsiung mayor-elect Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) and Taichung mayor-elect Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have publicly endorsed the “1992 consensus,” making it a popular search term on the Internet, especially in Kaohsiung.

However, a 2016 study published by Academia Sinica showed that although 90 percent of respondents had heard of the “1992 consensus,” only 24.9 percent were aware of its content, compared with 64.3 percent who were not.

The “1992 consensus,” a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party that both sides acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

Beijing has never publicly acknowledged that it accepts different interpretations.

An Internet survey conducted by National Chengchi University’s Election Study Center at the behest of Austin Wang (王宏恩), an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and others in July, also showed that Taiwanese do not have a correct understanding of the “1992 consensus.”

The survey, published in The Diplomat online magazine last month, showed that 33 percent of the 1,001 respondents thought the “1992 consensus” means that “the Republic of China (ROC) represents Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) represents the mainland and the two governments belong to two different countries.”

Of the respondents, 34 percent believed the “1992 consensus” means that the ROC represents Taiwan, the PRC represents the “mainland” and the two governments belong to the same country waiting for unification.

About 17 percent said it suggests that both the ROC and PRC claim to represent all Chinese, including Taiwan and China, while 5 percent chose: “The PRC represents all Chinese people including both mainland and Taiwan, and the ROC is the local government.”

In terms of acceptability, 75 percent agreed with “two different countries,” meaning, 48 percent supported the idea that the two governments belong to the same country waiting for unification, and 10 percent who believed the PRC represents all of China, with Taiwan being only a local government.

Even within the KMT, there are different versions of what the “1992 consensus” really means, Taiwan Thinktank researcher Tung Li-wen (董立文) said.

Cross-strait relations were not a focus during campaigns for the local elections, as evidenced by some KMT candidates’ attempts to distance themselves from former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) after he revised his previous “no unification” policy to “no opposition to unification” earlier last month, Tung said.

“That the consensus has re-entered the main political rhetoric after the elections is clearly the result of manipulation and attempts to mislead the people of Taiwan,” he said.

Yen Chien-fa (顏建發), a professor at the Chien Hsin University of Science and Technology’s Department of Business Administration, said that Beijing and the incoming KMT mayors want different things, with the former seeking to fulfill its political agenda and the latter looking for economic exchanges.

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