President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would promote a peace agreement with China under “three premises,” but signing such an accord is not a priority for his second term because the conditions are not yet mature, an official said yesterday.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), who is soon due to step down as president and general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), said at the opening in Beijing of the party’s 18th Party Congress on Thursday that governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should reach a peace agreement through consultation “so as to open a new horizon” in advancing the peaceful growth of bilateral ties.
Responding to media inquiries about his views on Hu’s call, Council of Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said that cross-strait negotiations have been following the principles of “urgent and easy issues first, then harder ones; and economic issues first, then political ones.”
“At present, many practical and technical issues are still pending consultations and solutions by the two sides,” Wang said.
Saying that Ma has said on many occasions that there is no timetable for his administration to promote the signing of a cross- strait peace accord, Wang said the president has also made it clear that three premises must be met before any step toward that goal will be considered.
“The three premises are that the pact must meet the actual needs of our country, win the strong support of our people and be supervised by our legislature,” Wang said.
Before the government promotes the signing of a cross-strait peace pact, Wang added, a referendum on such a proposal would need to be held.
Regarding Hu’s comment — in probably his last major address — that the two sides should uphold the [so-called] “1992 consensus” to expand common ground and set aside their differences, Wang said it marked the first time that China has included the consensus supposedly reached by the two sides in 1992 in any official documents.
“There is no question that the ‘1992 consensus’ is the basis for cross-strait engagements,” Wang added.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) defines the “1992 consensus” as an agreement according to which it interprets “one China” as the Republic of China on Taiwan, while Beijing defines it as the People’s Republic of China.
The Democratic Progressive Party says the “1992 consensus” does not exist.
In 2006, then-KMT legislator Su Chi (蘇起) admitted he made up the term in 2000, when he was head of the Mainland Affairs Council, before the KMT handed over power to the DPP. Su said he coined the term to encourage both sides to keep up cross-strait exchanges.
Separately yesterday, Premier Sean Chen said he “did not feel any new pressure” imposed upon the Cabinet after he learned of Hu’s speech because Hu just repeated most of his six-point proposition to Taiwan issued in December 2008.
Chen made the remarks when asked by KMT Legislator Lee Ching-hua (李慶華) during a question-and-answer session in the legislature whether he viewed Hu’s statement as a “push” to start cross-strait negotiation on a peace agreement.
“I did not see any new message [in Hu’s statement],” except that the formula of the ‘1992 consensus’ was included in the CCP’s documentation, Chen said.
Chen dismissed the proposal for political talks on a peace agreement, saying that economic issues should remain a priority to be dealt with because “both sides needed to up the quality of dialogue and to elevate mutual trust.”
It is more practical to handle economic issues than political ones, he added.
As an example, Chen said the rule needed to be reviewed that foreign carriers are not allowed to operate liner services between cross-strait ports by using foreign flag vessels.