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Freedom differentiates Taiwan, mainland China: MAC head

2012/01/04 20:18:39

Taipei, Jan. 4 (CNA) Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Shin-yuan urged Beijing Wednesday to give Chinese people greater freedom in order to help narrow the gap in the core values held by each side of the Taiwan Strait.

"Enjoying freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights is as natural as breathing for Taiwanese people," Lai said at a year-end press conference.

Mainland China, now the world's second-largest economy, however, needs to make a great deal of effort to improve its democracy, human rights and other universal values, Lai said.

"Systematic reforms to ensure social fairness, justice and human rights protection are in the interests of not only the mainland itself but also the rest of the world," she said.

Only in this way will the Chinese people obtain social diversification and the existing cross-strait gap in core values be minimized, she said.

For Taiwan's part, Lai went on, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou has clearly called for Beijing to better protect the human rights of its people whenever there is an incident involving Chinese people striving toward this cause.

Reviewing the development of Taiwan-China relations over the past three years, Lai said they have evolved from a "period of ideological battle" to a new era of "solving problems for the people of both sides through consultations," with "peace" the highest common denominator for both sides.

The peaceful cross-strait development has drawn global attention, Lai continued, citing the 2011 Global Peace Index released by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics & Peace, which ranked Taiwan in the 27th spot among 153 countries surveyed, compared with 44th place in 2008.

It was the first time Taiwan had been listed among the top 30 most peaceful countries by the institute.

Lai said that the government has been promoting cross-strait exchanges based on the principles of "no unification, no independence and no use of arms" and has obtained remarkable achievements as evidenced by the record number of tourist arrivals from China, which hit 1.1 million in the first 11 months of last year, with 7 million cross-strait visits during the same period.

The "three noes" approach advocated by Ma has won overwhelming public support, at 86 percent, according to the results of various polls conducted by the MAC last year, she said.

In response to remarks made a day earlier by Chang Yung-fa, chairman of the Evergreen Group, that without the "1992 consensus," Taiwan's economy will suffer, Lai predicted "uncertainty and instability" in the strait if the consensus were to be discontinued.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen denies the existence of any such consensus. Instead, she proposed a "Taiwan consensus" to serve as a basis for cross-strait talks.

Lai declined to comment on another remark by Chang that Tsai's advocacy of a "Taiwan consensus" instead of the "1992 consensus" is equivalent to pursuing de jure independence and would be totally unfeasible.

The "1992 consensus," which according to Ma is the bedrock on which the warming cross-strait ties are based, refers to a tacit understanding said by the ruling Kuomintang to have been reached between Taiwan and China that there is only one China, with each side free to have its own interpretation of what one China signifies.

(By Tsai Hsi-chia & Bear Lee)