Political issues may be unavoidable for Taiwan and China as the two sides conduct economic exchanges, former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) said yesterday, stressing that Taiwan should address political issues according to the public’s needs.
“‘Economic issues first and political ones later’ has been the principle guiding the handling of cross-strait relations. However, difficult political issues may come up during economic exchanges and we need to address them if the public deems it necessary,” he said at the opening ceremony of the ninth Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum held in Nanning, in China’s Guangxi Province.
The annual forum is held so the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party can meet to discuss cross-strait developments. Wu is attending the two-day forum as the envoy of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who also serves as KMT chairman.
Wu reiterated the president’s description of cross-strait ties as not being state-to-state relations and said that the so-called “1992 consensus” remains the foundation of the cross-strait relationship.
The “1992 consensus” refers to a disputed cross-strait agreement reached by the KMT and China on the meaning of the “one China” policy, under which both sides of the Taiwan Strait agree on the existence of “one China,” but each has its own interpretation of what “China” means.
“We should cement political trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and continue to define cross-strait relations under the ‘one China’ framework... Cross-strait relations are special relations,” he said.
Regarding Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) recent calls for Taiwan to bridge the cross-strait political division so it would not be “passed on from generation to generation,” Wu said bilateral ties are the warmest they have been for the past 50 years, adding that this generation’s efforts to promote peace across the Strait and seek win-win situations should be recognized.
Yu Zhengsheng (俞正聲), chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, reiterated China’s opposition to Taiwanese independence and said he expected the two sides would soon hold follow-up negotiations for the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), as well as implement cross-strait agreements.
The two-day forum is to end today. The cross-strait service trade agreement and the proposed establishment of representative offices on either side of the Strait were expected to be on the agenda at the event.
Separately yesterday, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said that Beijing should grant Taiwanese personnel the right to visit Taiwanese prisoners in China as part of the negotiations on the establishment of reciprocal representative offices.
“We believe that if China really values how Taiwanese feel and wishes to improve mutual political trust between the two sides, it will grant Taiwanese representative office personnel the right to visit [inmates] for humanitarian reasons,” Wang said in a speech to university students at the opening of a three-day seminar in Taipei on China policies.
Visitation rights are an important issue for the public and for all political parties in Taiwan, where freedom and human rights are highly regarded, Wang said, adding that China’s unwillingness to grant these rights has been the main obstacle impeding negotiations between Taipei and Beijing on the offices.
China has refused to move on the issue, on the grounds that such visits are not permissible under its laws, Wang said.
Matters such as the issuance of travel documents and visitation rights may be politically sensitive, but both sides should handle them wisely and practically during talks since they are issues that pertain to the rights and welfare of Taiwanese citizens in China, he said.
Additional reporting by CNA