Thu, Jan 24, 2019 - Page 3 News List

MAC minister, mayor meet on cross-strait ties

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu, right, listens as Mainland Affairs Council Minister Chen Ming-tong talks to reporters in Kaohsiung yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chung-i, Taipei Times

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong (陳明通) yesterday sought the “strategic support” of Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in their first public meeting, saying that the distance between Taiwan’s two main political parties should be narrower than that between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The closely watched meeting was held openly in Kaohsiung and lasted about 30 minutes, during which the two officials exchanged their views on cross-strait exchanges.

Chen opened by saying that Beijing’s ultimate goal has always been to annex Taiwan, one of the three “historic missions” for the CCP and its government.

“This view is line with one of the two ‘do not doubts’ put forth by Han,” Chen said, referring to Han’s remarks on Jan. 3 that people should not doubt the CCP’s determination to annex Taiwan, nor should they doubt the will of Taiwanese to pursue freedom and democracy.

As Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has laid down plans for unification and put his proposal of adopting a Taiwan version of the “one country, two systems” model on the table, Chen said that he hoped to gain Han’s support and start a strategic dialogue with him.

He produced a copy of Han’s master’s thesis on Beijing’s “united front” tactics that was published in 1988, in an apparent move to remind the mayor that he was once concerned that “the Republic of China [ROC] government has been strenuously fighting for its survival and development under threats of suppression [by the CCP] over the past 40 years.”

“Although Han and I belong to different political camps, we both possess ROC national identification cards. Like I once said, the distance between the pan-blue and pan-green camps, however wide it is, is narrower than that between the pan-blue camp and the ‘red camp’ [CCP],” Chen said.

Han said that as a mayor determined to bring economic prosperity to his city, he would not accept any rigid restrictions Chen might impose on his government, adding that the future Kaohsiung “will only have roads, not walls.”

“What you have in mind are rigid restrictions, while what I have in mind is economic development,” Han said.

“Rest assured, my city will not touch anything related to diplomacy or national defense. Kaohsiung will only be an ‘economic animal,’” he said, urging the council to be a “facilitator” of cross-strait exchanges instead of an “administrator.”

However, Han told Chen that China’s market would not be his sole target, saying that he planned to sign contracts with Malaysia and Singapore after the Lunar New Year holiday to sell Kaohsiung’s agricultural and aquatic products.

Despite brief, heated exchanges, the meeting ended on a conciliatory note after Chen reminded Han to be on the lookout for China’s unification agenda when engaging with it economically, but agreed to help relax restrictions where appropriate.

Throughout the meeting, they did not talk about the so-called “1992 consensus” — a term, former council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted making up in 2000, that refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the CCP that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

Han has said that he would seek closer economic exchanges with Beijing based on the “1992 consensus,” while President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration has never endorsed it, because it believes the “1992 consensus” means different things for the KMT and the CCP.

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