'1992 consensus' crucial to cross-strait relations: ex-President Ma

10/10/2021 02:37 PM
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Former President Ma Ying-jeou (front) and Kuomintang Chairman Eric Chu (behind Ma) salute when attending the opposition party
Former President Ma Ying-jeou (front) and Kuomintang Chairman Eric Chu (behind Ma) salute when attending the opposition party's flag raising ceremony in Taipei Sunday. CNA Photo Oct. 10, 2021

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said Sunday that the "1992 consensus" is vital to maintaining cross-strait relations, in response to a speech by Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) a day earlier.

Xi said Saturday that China will insist on "peaceful reunification" with Taiwan, the "one country, two systems" arrangement, the "1992 consensus," and the "one China" principle.

Xi also said in the same speech that Taiwan is an internal issue of China's and that Beijing will not tolerate any foreign interference.

At a flag-raising ceremony held at the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party headquarters in Taipei on Sunday to celebrate the Republic of China's (ROC) National Day, Ma was asked by reporters to comment on Xi's remarks.

The former president said the fact that the Chinese Communist Party has continued to list the "1992 consensus" and its "one China principle" separately over the past six months is an "important message," as it implies the two are not the same.

This is an indication that there is space for each side to seek common ground while maintaining differences of opinion, Ma said.

"I have repeatedly said that the '1992 consensus' and 'one China, different interpretations' are crucial principles in maintaining cross-strait peace and prosperity," Ma said.

The ROC Constitution does not exclude the possibility of reunification, Ma said, but as the ROC is a free and democratic country, "the method of reunification should be done peacefully and under a democratic process" for it to be acceptable to the people of Taiwan.

KMT Chairman Eric Chu (front, in suits) speaks at the party
KMT Chairman Eric Chu (front, in suits) speaks at the party's flag raising ceremony in Taipei Sunday. CNA Photo Oct. 10, 2021

KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) said that the basis of cross-strait relations was seeking common ground while retaining differences of opinion, though he expressed hope that the two sides can respect each other's differences.

A crucial point that must be respected is the existence of the ROC, and the ideals of democracy and freedom, Chu said.

He reiterated that the KMT was against Taiwan independence and the "one country, two systems" formula.

China has proposed using the "one country, two systems" formula to reunify with Taiwan, which claims to allow Taiwan to keep aspects of its own government system despite being ruled by China.

The formula is used by China in governing Hong Kong and Macau, though Beijing's erosion of Hong Kong's democratic institutions over the years and the passing of a National Security Law in 2020 have effectively killed the "two systems" portion of the formula, experts have said.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then-KMT government of Taiwan and the Chinese government. Under the consensus, both sides of the strait acknowledge that there is only "one China."

The KMT's interpretation of the consensus is that each side is free to interpret what "China" means, though Beijing has never publicly recognized or denied this interpretation.

This interpretation is also the difference in the "one China principle" adopted by Beijing and the "one China, different interpretations" concept used by the KMT.

(By Wang Cheng-chung and Chiang Yi-ching)

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