Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan’s (連戰) office yesterday said that Lien had discussed his thoughts on cross-strait developments with President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) prior to his visit to Beijing, dismissing the Presidential Office’s claim that the two did not discuss Lien’s remarks.
The dispute over whether Lien had discussed his remarks with Ma was sparked when, in Lien’s meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Beijing on Monday, Lien said that cross-strait relations should be based on the principles of “the ‘one China’ framework, cross-strait peace, mutual interest and integration, and the revitalization of the Zhonghua minzu (中華民族) [Chinese ethnic group].”
Lien’s “one China” remarks, together with another comment that political negotiation is unavoidable for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, raised concerns about the government moving toward unification.
Presidential Office spokesperson Lee Chia-fei (李佳霏) has denied that Lien was serving as Ma’s messenger and that his remarks represented the government’s cross-strait policy. She also said that Lien did not mention the “one China” remark to Ma when they met at the Presidential Office before Lien’s trip.
The head of Lien’s office, Ting Yuan-chao (丁遠超), yesterday disputed the Presidential Office’s claims, saying that Lien had called on Ma to face the challenges of cross-strait development and address political issues, which are unavoidable.
“Mr Lien had told President Ma about his trip to Beijing and his thoughts on cross-strait development when he met with him on Lunar New Year’s Day. They discussed cross-strait issues that could challenge the government and the president said he was optimistic about Mr Lien’s visit to Beijing,” Ting said.
Ting dismissed criticism from the opposition about Lien’s description of Taiwan as a troublemaker in the international community and said that Lien was stressing that Taiwan is no longer a troublemaker.
Lien led a delegation of Taiwanese businesspeople and politicians on a four-day trip to Beijing on Sunday and he met with Xi and outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) during his visit.
Both Lien and the Presidential Office said that the trip was non-official, but Lien meeting with China’s two top leaders received much media attention and his remarks sparked a furor at home.
Lee yesterday reiterated that Ma did not ask Lien to convey any messages to the Chinese government, but added that Ma respected “Lien’s observations about cross-strait development” during their meeting.
“If chairman Lien’s aide meant that Lien was discussing his thoughts on cross-strait relations, the Presidential Office respects their comments … during their meeting, President Ma did listen to chairman Lien’s opinions about cross-strait relations,” she said.
In an attempt to play down the dispute, she said Ma had expressed his respect and optimism about Lien’s visit to China as a non-government official.