Sun, Apr 14, 2019 - Page 3 News List

‘Peace through wisdom,’ Han tells US

‘I WALK THE WALK’:‘It is one thing to befriend our American ally, but it’s something else to take the American friendship for granted,’ Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu said

Staff writer, with CNA, Boston

The two sides of the Taiwan Strait should pursue peace through wisdom, and Taiwan should not drag the US into conflict by mismanaging cross-strait relations, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) said on Thursday at a Harvard University forum.

Han, who is on a nine-day visit to the US, told a closed-door forum at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies that the US is an important friend of Taiwan, but that the friendship should not be abused.

“We cannot, and should not, drag our American friends down due to ineffective handling of cross-strait relations,” Han said.

“It is one thing to befriend our American ally, but it’s something else to take the American friendship for granted,” he added.

“We must assume our share of the responsibility in securing peace in the Taiwan Strait so that our people can live in democracy and prosperity,” said Han, who has the highest polling numbers of any potential Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate, but has yet to say whether he would run in next year’s election.

The mayor told dozens of students and teachers that Taiwan’s only military threat comes from Beijing, and that as Taiwan strengthens its defense capabilities, it must also seek peaceful coexistence with China, a copy of Han’s speech showed.

Wisdom is needed to avoid potential conflicts, Han said, adding that China should not doubt Taiwan’s determination to strive for democracy, but Taiwan should not doubt China’s determination for unification.

In his speech titled “The Power of Down to Earth — They Talk the Talk, I Walk the Walk,” Han said that the major challenges for Taiwan’s leader are how to safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and how to ensure that Taiwan will not be excluded from important international activities.

Han also mentioned the so-called “1992 consensus,” which he described as a stabilizer of cross-strait relations.

“My basis for cross-strait relations is the 1992 consensus. My victory in the past election showed that the people of Taiwan did not reject my stance on this matter,” he said.

Han urged President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), who has rejected the existence of such a consensus, to come up with alternate ideas and concrete measures to maintain peace and sustain development.

“My view on the 1992 consensus is naturally ‘one China, respective interpretations’ based on the Constitution ... certainly not ‘one country, two systems,’” Han added.

The “1992 consensus” — a term that 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 government that both sides acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

James Huang (黃正德), a Harvard professor who attended the forum, quoted Han as saying during a 90-minute question-and-answer session held afterward that Taiwan should look to the US for assistance with national defense, to Japan for technology and China as a market for Taiwan’s exports.

Some participants voiced concern about how Taiwan and China would interact and whether Taiwan would lean toward China, but the professor quoted Han as saying that having an attitude of “being open, being friends” was the only way to resolve the difficult situation.

Han said that the future would be unpredictable if hostility persisted and if there was no trust between the two sides, Huang added.

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