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MAC head proposes three tenets for stable cross-strait relations

2019/01/22 18:38:44

Taipei, Jan. 22 (CNA) Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), head of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), on Tuesday put forth three proposals for maintaining peaceful and stable relations across the Taiwan Strait, which he said is the responsibility of both sides.

First of all, Chen said at a news conference, the people of Taiwan need to set aside political affiliations and prejudices, discard unrealistic rhetoric, and work together to prioritize Taiwan's interests.

The Taiwanese people should unite to "fight for their livelihood, protect their country's democracy, and safeguard its sovereignty," he said.

Second, Chen said, Taiwan must reach a consensus to totally reject Beijing's "one China, two systems" formula for unification with Taiwan.

He said Communist China does not recognize the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), only Beijing's "one China principle," and its "two sides, one China," and "one China, two systems" proposals.

"We must safeguard our country and forge a 'Taiwan consensus' to put the values democracy and freedom first in order to turn a new page in the development of cross-strait relations," said Chen.

Taiwan has never been part of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and will never become one of its special administrative regions, he said.

The future of cross-strait relations depends on China implementing genuine democratic reforms, he said.

"That is the best solution to the 'Taiwan issue' that we can offer the Chinese side," Chen said.

In his third proposal for maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, he said China should restart the mechanisms for official contact and institutionalized negotiations between the two sides as soon as possible.

"We can begin with cooperation on the urgent matter of measures against African swine fever (ASF)," Chen said, referring to an outbreak of the animal disease in China.

Due to a freeze in official cross-strait exchanges, Taiwan has not received any updates from China on the ASF outbreak there and has been making every effort to prevent the entry of the virus, which could decimate its NT$170 billion (US$5.5 billion) pig farming industry.

Meanwhile, Chen said, China has been attempting to set up cross-strait links by bypassing the official channels, which is part of its united front strategy to create divisions in Taiwan.

He was referring to the contact Beijing allows with Taiwan cities and counties run by the China-friendly opposition Kuomintang (KMT), despite its unilateral suspension of official dialogue with Taipei after the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in 2016.

President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) cross-strait policy focuses on maintaining the status quo across the strait but does not recognize the "1992 consensus," which was the basis of the cross-strait policy of the former administration, the KMT.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a verbal agreement reached in 1992 between the then KMT government and Chinese communist officials. The agreement has been interpreted by the KMT to mean that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is only "one China," with each side free to interpret what "China" means.

However, Beijing has never publicly voiced support for the second part of the KMT's interpretation.

The "1992 consensus" has been questioned recently since Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said in a speech on Jan. 2 that China must be reunified, will not renounce the use of force and will reserve "the option of taking all necessary means" to achieve that end.

In the speech, which was delivered to commemorate the 40th anniversary of China's "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan," Xi defined the "1992 consensus" as "the two sides of the strait belonging to one China and working together to seek the unification of the nation."

He also said the "one country, two systems" formula was the best approach to achieving reunification.

At Tuesday's press conference, Chen said the DPP administration's cross-strait policy this year will focus on evaluating China's actions toward Taiwan, national security defense, and the establishment of a "democracy safeguard network."

The policy will also include strengthening cooperation between the central and local governments, protecting Taiwan's wider interests, paying attention to the trade war between China and the United States, and helping Taiwanese businesses in China relocate back to Taiwan, he said.

(By Miu Chung-han and Elizabeth Hsu)
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