President-elect Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) reiterated on Friday his “mutual non-denial” position in dealing with Beijing and said China would continue to be defined as the “Mainland area” in the law governing relations across the Taiwan Strait.
In an interview with the Central News Agency in which he outlined his position on China, Ma said that at present, “mutual recognition [between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait] is not possible, while mutual denial is unnecessary. Therefore, only mutual non-denial can provide space for interaction.”
He said that while in the past Beijing refused to acknowledge Taiwan’s existence, it now only objects to Taiwan’s “de-jure independence,” a clear indication that Taiwan and China could find a way to coexist peacefully.
Mutual non-denial, Ma said, implies that “we will not deny its [China’s] existence but we cannot recognize its sovereignty.”
Following the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) victory in the March 22 presidential election, a sea change in Taiwan’s China policy and cross-strait relationship appeared imminent.
Ma announced during and after the election campaign that he would launch regular weekend charter flights, open Taiwan to Chinese tourists, relax restrictions on investment in China and negotiate direct links — an approach to relations with Beijing that some have interpreted as marking a reversal of the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) policy in the past eight years.
To address the new situation, Ma said that the Act Governing Relations between Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例) would have to be amended, adding that under the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of China, “China cannot be addressed as the People’s Republic of China.”
Although critics have argued that Ma has oversimplified the complex cross-strait relationship and made comments that had yet to be fully fleshed out, the president-elect said he was fully aware that nothing could be accomplished in a single step.
Ma said he would be very cautious while pursuing ties with China and favored a gradual approach, but added that matters such as weekend charter flights had been sufficiently discussed in past years and had only not become reality because the DPP had not acted on them.
While acknowledging that China is only part of the KMT’s “global-linkage” strategy, Ma said the DPP had totally ignored the importance of China and had rather taken a hands-off approach.
“The fundamental difference between Ma and the current government will be how we face issues pragmatically, rather than putting them off or facing them blindly,” he said.
To normalize trade relations with China, Ma said he would seek agreements to protect investments by Taiwanese businesses in China and avoid double taxation, moves he said should meet little opposition.
Ma also defended his support for the recognition of diplomas issued by Chinese universities, which critics have said would undermine local workers.
He said he supported a policy to facilitate student and teacher exchanges rather than allow them to acquire professional licenses in Taiwan.
Asked if he would mention the so-called “1992 consensus” — in which the KMT says Taiwan and China acknowledge “one China” but have different interpretations of what it means — in his May 20 inauguration address, Ma remained mum, only saying that the speech was being drafted.
In related news, the nation’s representative to the US, Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), said on Friday that more than 50 members of the US Congress had extended their congratulations to Ma on his March 22 election win.
He said that during an informal gathering with Taiwanese reporters in Washington, the maturity and rationality demonstrated by Taiwanese and the democratic manner in which the outcome of the election was accepted by ruling and opposition parties have won the praise of Congress leaders, including House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl and House Republican Whip Roy Blunt.
They said Taiwanese should be proud of their democratic system and that the nation’s experience in pursuing democracy served as a model for other countries in the Asia-Pacific region and even around the world, Wu said.
In their congratulatory messages, members of Congress emphasized the importance of US-Taiwan relations in light of the many common interests between the two sides, including democracy, human rights, the rule of law, trade, and peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, Wu said.
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