Forum talks of opposing independence

FLYING HIGH::Former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung said he hoped there could be more cross-strait flights since high-speed rail projects have reduced domestic flights

Staff Writer, with CNA, CHENGDU, CHINA

Sun, May 08, 2011 - Page 3

A senior Chinese official yesterday called for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to oppose Taiwanese independence and recognize the so-called “1992 consensus” in order to lay a common ground to develop peaceful relations.

Jia Qinglin (賈慶林), chairman of China’s top political advisory body — the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference — made the remarks in the presence of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) as the KMT-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) forum opened in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding ostensibly reached in a meeting in 1992 under which Taiwan and China agree that there is only “one China,” but the two sides can have different interpretations of what that means.

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) insists that the “1992 consensus” does not exist. In 2006, former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitted he made up the term “1992 consensus” in 2000 before the KMT handed power over to the DPP.

Wu, head of the KMT delegation, stressed the importance of the forum in a speech during the opening ceremony.

Wu said that ideas proposed at the past six cross-strait economic trade and cultural forums had become major policies for both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

“The forum has made its contribution, providing reference in formulating policies for both governments,” Wu said.

Wu said peaceful cross-strait relations had been a major factor in helping Taiwan emerge from the shadow of the latest economic crisis.

The implementation of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which was signed in June last year, has also contributed to Taiwan’s return to economic prosperity, he said.

Wu also appealed for more direct cross-strait flights and an increase in the number of Chinese cities and provinces allowing residents to visit Taiwan independently rather than as part of a tour group.

China plans to only allow residents of a few cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, to travel to Taiwan as independent tourists when the program begins, possibly before the end of next month.

Wu said that after the launch of Taiwan’s high-speed rail in 2007, domestic flights had declined dramatically. With China also expanding its high-speed rail services, its domestic flights will decrease. He expressed hope that the spare flights could be diverted toward direct cross-strait flights.

“The present 370 weekly cross-strait flights can hardly meet the travel needs of people across the Taiwan Strait,” Wu said.

Jia said that both China and Taiwan would like to see independent Chinese tourists travel to Taiwan next month.

Citing China’s 12th five-year plan along with Taiwan’s “golden decade” project to promote economic transformation, Jia expressed hope that both sides could strengthen economic cooperation through their economic development proposals.

Eight seminars will be held at the forum, with nuclear safety added to the agenda for the first time.