Since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008, his administration has managed to sign more than a dozen trade and economic agreements with China to effectively ease tensions and confrontation across the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing authorities, however, do not seem to be fully satisfied with just forging trade and economic ties with Taiwan.
Sun Ya-fu, deputy director of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, publicly urged the two sides at a seminar in Taipei Saturday to sign a peace accord to "jointly share the duty and obligation of avoiding national secession."
Speaking on the same occasion, Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao did not respond to Sun's call, instead urging China to treat the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in a pragmatic manner.
The following are excerpts from local media coverage of the latest developments in cross-strait relations:
John Chiang, a vice chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) organized a seminar in Taipei Saturday in the name of a private foundation to mark the 20th anniversary of the "1992 Consensus."
The consensus refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then-KMT government and Beijing that there is only "one China," but each side is free to interpret what "one China" means.
Politicians from Taiwan's two major political camps as well as Chinese scholars and officials in charge of Taiwan affairs were invited to review developments in cross-strait affairs.
Sun claimed that since 2008, "the market for Taiwan independence advocacy has shrunk and cross-strait relations have become increasingly closer."
He expressed China's aspirations for building up cross-strait military trust and signing a cross-strait peace pact.
While military mutual trust is aimed at reducing security concerns and creating a secure, harmonious living environment for people on the two sides, Sun said, the peace agreement would allow the two sides to share the responsibility and obligation of preventing national secession.
In response, Mainland Affairs Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao said the future of cross-strait relations will mainly hinge on mainstream Taiwan opinion.
Noting that upholding the dignity of the Republic of China is Taiwan's mainstream public opinion, Chang said Beijing should pragmatically face up to the reality of the ROC's existence to perpetuate cross-strait peace and prosperity.
Hsu Hsin-liang, a former chairman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which favors de jure Taiwan independence, said that for Taiwan, the most critical issue in cross-strait relations is that without China's consent, Taiwan cannot join the United Nations or sign free trade agreements with its major trade partners.
"These are pressing issues for Taiwan's survival and future well- being," Hsu said, adding that China should not block Taiwan's participation in major world organizations and activities or prevent other countries from signing free trade pacts with Taiwan. (Dec. 23, 2012).
United Daily News:
Yu Shyi-kun, a former DPP chairman who once served as premier in the DPP administration, said at a seminar on the defense of Taiwan's sovereign status and pursuit of national interests Saturday that the DPP has dared not say that it wants to make Taiwan a normal country because it is afraid of losing the support of swing voters or those who support a middle-of-the-road policy toward China.
Yu argued that Taiwan must oppose the "one China" overture if it wants to protect its sovereignty.
"If Taiwan were to accept the 'one China' rhetoric, Taiwan affairs would become China's internal affairs," Yu warned, adding that he believes popular will is the most important factor in pursuing Taiwan's goal.
"The awakening of Taiwan's 23 million people is the most important issue if Taiwan wants to become a normal country," he said at the seminar sponsored by the Taiwan Foundation for Asia Pacific Development. (Dec. 23, 2012).
(By Sofia Wu)