Ma reaffirms '1992 consensus' in talks with China's top Taiwan official
Taipei, March 30 (CNA) Former Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Thursday reaffirmed the importance of the "1992 consensus" at a meeting with Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Song Tao (宋濤) in China.
Ma, the first former Taiwan president to go to the Chinese mainland, noted that the "1992 consensus" was a focus when leaders of both sides of the Taiwan Strait met in Singapore in 2015, referring to a meeting he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) during his tenure as ROC President.
This demonstrates to the world that cross-strait disputes can be worked out by both sides of the Taiwan Strait peacefully, Ma said during his meeting with Song at a hotel in Wuhan, Hubei Province.
It was because both sides accepted the "1992 consensus" that they were able to set aside disputes and create win-win cross-strait relations, Ma said.
Citing as examples the resumption of talks and the signing of 23 agreements between the two sides, meetings between officials on both sides and the 2015 Ma-Xi meeting, Ma said an exemplary model was established on how to "handle tough issues in a peaceful manner."
According to the KMT, the "1992 consensus," reached at a 1992 meeting between the two sides during a KMT administration headed by former ROC President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), refers to a tacit understanding that both sides recognize there is only "one China," with each having its own interpretation of what China means.
However, the term "1992 consensus" was only coined by former Mainland Affairs Council minister Su Chi (蘇起) in 2000 before the KMT government handed over power to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
Taiwan's current ruling DPP refuses to accept the "1992 consensus."
The DPP has argued that Beijing has never acknowledged the existence of the ROC and that agreeing to the "1992 consensus" implies acceptance of China's claim over Taiwan.
In his remarks, Song spoke highly of Ma as making a vital contribution to the development of cross-strait relations by adhering to the "1992 consensus" and opposing Taiwan independence to further the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.
Ma's visit has drawn criticism from DPP politicians and lawmakers and pro-Taiwan independence groups, who said Ma has humiliated the nation and forfeited its sovereignty.
Earlier Thursday, Ma lamented that cross-strait relations drastically reversed after the transition of power from the KMT to the DPP in 2016, in an address at an event attended by Wuhan University students and Taiwanese students who are visiting China with Ma.
Also in the city, Ma toured the Wuhan Archives Hall to visit the exhibition about China's experience in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, during which he praised the pandemic control measures taken by China.
Ma expressed his admiration for Zhang Dingyu (張定宇), head of Jinyintan Hospital, one of the main hospitals to deal with the disease when the coronavirus pandemic first broke out in the city in late 2019.
"Under the leadership of Superintendent Zhang, everyone did their utmost to control the pandemic, thus preventing the virus from widely spreading, for which we have deep admiration. The contribution made was not only for China, but all human beings," Ma said, when Zhang accompanied him on the tour.
When they saw the exhibit featuring Taiwanese compatriots assisting with pandemic prevention efforts, a tour guide said to Ma that the Taiwanese were traveling as tourists and wanted to return to Taiwan as soon as possible after the pandemic broke out in late 2019.
However, Beijing's plan to send the remaining Taiwanese back home on Feb.5-6, after a first batch returned on a chartered flight, was delayed until April, because the initial proposal was "blocked" by the DPP government, the tour guide said.
After the guide finished the story, Ma said to Zhang that he felt "sorry" because "our government caused you trouble."
Asked to respond, Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who then headed Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), said Thursday that the CECC had been working to bring back the Taiwanese stranded in China at the earliest possible time but efforts were hindered by difficulties such as verifying the identities of the passengers.
As it turned out some of the people on board the first chartered flight to Taiwan did not meet priority qualifications, it took longer to process the transport of remaining Taiwanese by a second and third charter flight, according to Chen.
Ma's praise for China's pandemic-control efforts also drew criticism from Chen.
Some researchers have alleged that the origin of the coronavirus could be connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, but were unable to make a definite conclusions due to China's refusal to cooperate in the investigation, Chen said.
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