The latest transition of power in China should not affect the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday, while reiterating the government’s current focus on non-political cross-strait exchanges.
“We aim to broaden and deepen existing relations with the mainland [China]. The issue of sovereignty remains a challenge in cross-strait relations and only by shelving it can we move ahead without having to touch on difficult issues,” he said as he discussed cross-strait relations at a Fulbright Research Workshop in Taipei.
Putting economic cross-strait issues before political ones to avoid disputes over national sovereignty is a major cross-strait policy under the Ma administration. Having started his second term as president last year, Ma gave the reassurance yesterday that his administration would maintain the policy and avoid developing political relations with China.
His comments contradict remarks by former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰), who recently said that negotiations on political issues are unavoidable in the future if cross-strait relations are to continue developing.
During a meeting with outgoing Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) earlier this month in Beijing, Lien urged the government to face the challenge and prepare itself to start political talks with China.
Lien also met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), the incoming president, during his trip and said bilateral relations should be based on “the ‘one China’ framework, cross-strait peace, mutual interest and integration, and the revitalization of the Zhonghua minzu [中華民族, the Chinese ethnic group].”
Ma said yesterday that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait continued to disagree on the definition of “one China.” He cited the so-called “1992 consensus” and insisted that the two sides agreed to respect each other’s interpretation of the phrase “one China.”
When asked by a Fulbright scholar whether he will meet with Xi, the president said that such a meeting would be difficult to arrange, because the issue of each other’s titles would be a thorny one.
“Taiwanese people will not accept me being addressed as Chairman Ma or Professor Ma if such a meeting is held,” he said.
He added that cross-strait relations have been the best under his administration in the past 60 years, and said the change of leadership in China should not affect the direction of cross-strait relations, because the two sides would continue to promote peace across the Taiwan Strait.