Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) statement yesterday on the so-called “1992 consensus” has put the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in a hard spot, National Cheng Kung University professor Hung Ching-fu (洪敬富) said.
The “1992 consensus,” a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted to making up in 2000, refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
The KMT’s consensus was made intentionally vague, but Xi’s statement has removed that vagueness by adding the “goal of unification,” Hung said.
That placed the KMT in an awkward position, and China could, like KMT Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) had in last year’s local elections campaign, begin linking the consensus to the economy, Hung said.
Tamkang University’s Graduate School of China Studies professor Andy Chang (張五岳) agreed, saying that Xi’s statement marked a departure of the Chinese definition of the consensus from that of the KMT.
It has also affected perception of the consensus by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwanese public, Chang said.
China has adopted the method of handling the mention of the consensus on two levels, Chang said.
Should the consensus be mentioned in relation to cross-strait ties, or negotiations between high-ranking civil servants on either side, the Chinese would place more significance on the issue, he said.
However, should the consensus, or its concept, be mentioned in lower-level interactions, such as city-to-city relations, the Chinese would place less significance on the usage of the term or concept, Chang added.
This two-level handling was why Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was able to facilitate interaction with Shanghai when he said “both sides of the [Taiwan] Strait are family,” but would probably meet with failure if he were to use it in running for the presidency, Chang said..
Xi in his concluding remarks said: “It is the global consensus to maintain the one China principle, and the affairs of the Chinese should be decided by the Chinese and not by foreign powers. China’s unification will not harm any nation’s benefits, including their economic benefits in Taiwan.”
Compared with the statements made in 2008, the 30th anniversary of China’s original Letter to “Taiwanese compatriots,” Taiwan and China has no basis of mutual trust, have essentially severed their only link of communication and faces the additional difficulty of the US-China trade dispute, which is straining US-China relations while further solidifying US-Taiwan relations, Chang said.
Chang said that Xi’s comments are aimed partly at the US.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) New Year’s address and “Xi Five Points” are both statements to the international body and are less concerned with whether their statements would receive a positive response from each other, Chang said.
Tsai’s address had made clear the DPP administration’s stance, allowing the Taiwanese public and the international community to understand what lines the government will not cross, Chang said.
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