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Taiwan responds positively to China's remarks on cross-strait ties

2016/02/26 18:25:47

Taipei, Feb. 26 (CNA) Taiwan responded positively Friday to remarks by China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi (王毅) in which he expressed hope that President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will be committed to the pursuit of peaceful development in her administration's ties with China in line with the country's constitution.

Wang said during a question-and-answer session following a speech on China-U.S. relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank, that he hopes "the person in power in Taiwan will indicate that she wants to pursue the peaceful development of cross-Taiwan Strait relations and that she will accept the provision in Taiwan's constitution that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China."

In Taipei, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the government agency responsible for China policy, responded that it welcomes the move by China to face practically the Republic of China Constitution.

The MAC, however, emphasized that the Taiwan government will never accept Beijing's "one China" principle.

The ROC is a sovereign country, and according to its constitution, both sides of the strait are two different areas under the ROC, it added.

It urged Beijing to face squarely the facts that the two sides of the strait are ruled separately and the existence of the ROC.

Both sides should also cherish the cross-strait peace that has been achieved, and jointly work to maintain peaceful and stable development, it said.

While speaking at the CSIS event on the impact of Tsai's election on Beijing-Taipei relations, Wang said that it is "a Chinese internal affair," but added that it is just a change of government in Taiwan and "should not come as too big a surprise."

Tsai, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won the January election and will take office on May 20.

Wang said China does not care that much who is in power in Taiwan.

"What we care about is, once someone has come into power, how he or she handles cross-strait relations, whether he or she will maintain the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, whether he or she will recommit to the political foundation of cross-strait relations," he added.

"The one China principle, this is what we care about," Wang said, while expressing hope that Taiwan's next president will make efforts to pursue the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.

"She is elected on the basis of the current constitution of Taiwan, which still recognizes the mainland and Taiwan as one, the same China," Wang said.

"It will be difficult to imagine that someone who is elected on the basis of that constitution should try to do anything in violation of Taiwan's own constitution," he said. "If she should attempt to do that, the international community will not accept it. Mainland China will not accept it."

Wang argued that the people of Taiwan will not accept it either, "because they want to see the continued peaceful development of cross-strait relations."

They want to see more mainland visitors, pursue more business ties with the mainland, he said. They also want to live in a climate of peace and tranquility, adding that "the next government in Taiwan must think about these issues in a serious way."

In his remarks, Wang did not mention "the 1992 consensus" and his use of "constitution" was also a rare move.

When commenting on cross-strait ties, officials under China's Taiwan Affairs Office usually stress the importance of the "1992 consensus," but refrain from mentioning anything like "ROC Constitution" or "ROC president."

The consensus refers to the basic concept that both Taiwan and mainland China agree that there is only one China, with each side free to interpret what that means.

In response to Wang's remarks, DPP Legislator Wu Ping-jui (吳秉叡) said that only a country can have its own constitution. If China recognizes that the ROC has its own constitution, whether it will go further and actually recognize the existence of the ROC is the core issue.

Tung Chen-yuan (童振源), who was deputy head of the Mainland Affairs Council under the former DPP administration of Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and is now a professor at National Chengchi University, said Wang's use of the word "constitution" shows to some extent China's goodwill.

Wang's comments also indicate that Beijing is adjusting its attitude, no longer insists on the term "1992 consensus," and is willing to establish a new basis for cross-strait political interaction with the new DPP government, Tung said.

The incoming DPP administration will have to adequately respond to the change of China's stance to create a new model of cross-strait interaction that is conducive to peaceful development and prosperity, he added.

(By Rita Cheng, Wen Kuei-hsiang, Chen Chia-lun and Elaine Hou)