The “Taiwan consensus” proposed by former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would never be able to replace the so-called “1992 consensus” as the basis for dealings with China, former DPP chairman Shih Ming-te (施明德) said recently.
Shih, who in past years has distanced himself from the party, said that while the proposed “Taiwan consensus” seeks to achieve a common ground within Taiwan, the “1992 consensus” is an expression of “political intentions.”
“China has become Taiwan’s most important trading partner and the DPP cannot afford being anti-China anymore,” he said in an interview.
“The DPP should think about engaging China and coming up with workable cross-strait policies,” added Shih, a democracy activist during the Martial Law era who is now relatively inactive politically, but still comments on political issues.
During her campaign, Tsai proposed the idea of a “Taiwan consensus” to be reached through a democratic process as a substitute for the “1992 consensus.”
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) describes the “1992 consensus” as a tacit understanding between Taiwan and China that there is only “one China,” with each side free to interpret what the phrase means. China has said the consensus is the foundation of all cross-strait exchanges.
The DPP denies the existence of such a consensus, after former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) admitting he made up the term in 2000.
Shih added that it would become normal for foreign powers to try to affect Taiwan’s elections, citing China’s use of its trade leverage to influence Taiwanese, US politics and foreign investors.
The DPP has said that Washington tried to influence the Jan. 14 election in favor of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who was seeking re-election.
Shih also praised the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) for advancing cross-strait trade, but said he was against the idea of forging a peace accord with China, which he said would only stir up unnecessary political tensions.
“Taiwan’s peace relies on the Taiwan Relations Act, not a peace accord with China,” Shih said, adding that Taiwan should value its ties with the US.