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'Two countries' reference clarified by Presidential Office

2010/02/18 15:52:49

Taipei, Feb. 18 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou would not refer toTaiwan and China as "the two countries, " a Presidential Officespokesman said Thursday in clarifying a press release that used theterm a day earlier.

The Liberty Times reported that according to a PresidentialOffice press release issued Wednesday, the president referred toTaiwan and China as "two countries" when he talked with a visitingU.S. congressman earlier in the day.

Spokesman Wang Yu-chi said, however, that the president has notand would never refer to cross-strait relations as relations betweentwo countries.

Wang explained that according to the Republic of ChinaConstitution, the ROC on Taiwan is a sovereign state and the Chinesemainland is an ROC "area."

Under this constitutional framework, he said, the ROC does notrecognize China as a sovereign nation but "does not deny that in factmainland authorities are the effective ruling authority in themainland Chinese area."

Such a constitutional framework has been observed in Taiwan sinceformer President Lee Teng-hui promulgated it 19 years ago, Wang said,and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party did not try to makeany changes to the framework during its eight-year rule between 2000and 2008 either.

"Following such a framework not only is not a sign of weakness,it helps underline the ROC's sovereignty and subjectivity, " Wangsaid.

The topic is sensitive, however, because Ma's predecessors -- LeeTeng-hui and Chen Shui-bian -- both referred to relations with Chinaas "state-to-state" relations.

But in his effort to improve relations with Taiwan's long-timerival, Ma has backed away from that formula, instead referringconsistently to Taiwan and China as the "two sides" of the TaiwanStrait within the context of cross-strait relations.

According to the newspaper report, the Presidential Office pressrelease wrote that Ma described Taiwan and China as the "twocountries" when discussing a proposed economic cooperation frameworkagreement (ECFA) with China with visiting U.S. Representative JamesSensenbrenner on Wednesday.

The words "two countries" were later removed from the pressrelease posted on the Presidential Office Web site and changed to"the two sides," according to the newspaper.

(By Huang Jui-hung and Deborah Kuo)