The latest proposal that Taiwan and China function as separate governments within a “one China” framework could be up for discussion, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said, sparking concern within the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) about political negotiations across the Taiwan Strait.
In an interview with the Chinese-language Apple Daily published yesterday, Ma said a proposal made by Beijing’s Tsinghua University professor Chu Shulong (楚樹龍) in a recent paper to the Brookings Institution that Taiwan and China should be brought together as a single country, but with separate central governments, showed that his own “mutual non-denial” position on cross-strait relations had inspired more academics to think about cross-strait issues.
“I think mutual denial of each other’s sovereignty and mutual non-denial of respective jurisdictions would be more appropriate, but any proposal has its pros and cons, and I think it’s up for discussion,” Ma said.
The “mutual non-denial” policy proposed by Ma in 2007 implies that Taiwan does not deny China’s existence, but that it cannot recognize its sovereignty.
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said later yesterday that the “discussion” Ma mentioned in the interview referred to “academic discussions,” dismissing the DPP’s criticisms of Ma’s comments.
“We hope the DPP will stop distorting the president’s remarks and use its energy to work on a long-term framework for interaction between the two sides [of the Taiwan Strait] instead,” he said.
Fan Chiang said the Ma government has been promoting cross-strait relations using the principle of “one China, with a different interpretation on each side.”
Ma said in the interview that the “one China” in the proposed “one country, two central governments” solution should refer to the Republic of China (ROC).
Ma, seeking re-election in January’s presidential election, brushed aside concerns about the start of political negotiations between the two sides of the Strait if he were re-elected, saying the core issue of cross-strait relations, which is the sovereignty issue, would not be able to be solved in such a short time.
“There’s no pressure for political negotiations” from Beijing, Ma said. “They do not necessarily want to hurry the talks either.”
DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the interview showed the president’s pro-China inclination and that it was cause for serious concern.
“I think that cross-strait interaction is an extremely difficult question that the president shouldn’t take it so lightly; it concerns the country’s sovereignty and it contains dangers. [The talk] about political discussions concern [whether Taiwan] is ready for unification with China,” Chen said.
Chen said Ma needed to break out of the “one China” mindset that the so-called “1992 consensus” had “locked Taiwan into.”
Chu’s proposal ran counter to Ma’s 2008 election promise that he would not “discuss unification” while president, Chen added.
Elsewhere in the Apple Daily interview, Ma challenged DPP Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) proposal to build a “feasible and viable” interaction framework with China if elected and lashed out at her cross-strait policies, saying they were “hollow and vague.”
“Tsai’s denial of the existence of the ‘1992 consensus’ shows that she cannot face reality and her comments on the so-called ‘feasible and viable interaction framework’ are empty talk,” Ma said.
Ma also challenged Tsai’s call for mutual understanding between the DPP and Beijing, saying it would be difficult for Tsai to carry out her promises because of her evasiveness when defining cross-strait policies.
In response to Ma’s criticism of Tsai, Chen said that instead of political attacks, the president should assess his own cross-strait policies and whether they have received popular support.
“Ma’s cross-strait policies revolve around a ‘one China’ framework. Instead, what the DPP is proposing is a framework that is open and can create lasting peace and stability,” Chen said. “As the 'one China' policy his only platform, we wonder how this kind of leader still has the nerve to criticize others?”
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