Ex-president tells Chinese students ROC Constitution covers Taiwan, mainland
Changsha, China, April 2 (CNA) Former Republic of China (Taiwan) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) told a group of Chinese students in the Chinese city of Changsha on Sunday that Taiwan and mainland China are "both China" under an amendment to the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution.
"Our country amended the Constitution," Ma told 28 Taiwanese students and 32 Chinese students when they met at Hunan University in Changsha on the seventh day of his trip to the mainland.
"In our definition, our country has been divided into two parts, one is the Taiwan area, and the other is the mainland area. Both are part of our Republic of China, both are China," he said.
Ma further explained how Taiwan and the Chinese mainland are defined in the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area introduced in Taiwan in September 1992.
Article 2 of the law states that "the Taiwan area" refers to Taiwan proper, and the island groups of Penghu, Kinmen, and Matsu, while "the mainland area" means "our territory" excluding the aforementioned islands, said the former president.
Ma's mentioning of the ROC Constitution in China is likely to be seen as a sensitive topic by China, which considers Taiwan to be part of its territory and objects to any actions that suggest Taiwan is a sovereign country.
Ma has made several mentions of the ROC (Taiwan's official name) during his China visit, but all of those mentions have been censored by China's state-run CCTV.
On Friday, Ma said he was elected twice as ROC president when he paid his respect to his ancestors in Xiangtan, Hunan Province.
Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers have strongly criticized Ma's trip, accusing him of undermining Taiwan's sovereignty and "betraying Taiwan."
The DPP has urged Ma to speak to Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to protest against Chinese military threats directed at Taiwan.
Ma is the first former ROC president to go to the Chinese mainland since 1949, when the ROC government relocated to Taiwan during the civil war.
During his speech at Hunan University on Sunday, Ma also mentioned the claim that "Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People's Republic of China" made in the preamble to the PRC's 1982 constitution.
Constitutions in both Taiwan and the Chinese mainland state that the two areas "belong to one China," said Ma, who was Republic of China president from 2008-2016.
The two sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same culture and insist that there is only "one China" in the world, despite their different government systems and policies, he said.
Ma said he hopes everyone will make the best possible effort to ensure Taiwan and the mainland can engage in truthful and sincere exchanges, instead of unnecessarily widening the gap between the two sides.
In response, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top government agency in charge of cross-strait affairs, later in the day criticized Ma as echoing the "One China principle" propounded by Beijing in an attempt to annex Taiwan.
In a written statement, the MAC said Ma was hurting Taiwan's sovereignty and national dignity by claiming that "Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People's Republic of China," as stated in the preamble of the 1982 Constitution of the People's Republic of China.
The statement noted that while mentioning the PRC and ROC Constitutions in the same breath, Ma also said that the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait adhere to the "One China principle."
Such remarks "not only belittle Taiwan but also seriously deviate from the fact that Taiwan has never been a part of the People's Republic of China," the MAC said.
Ma's claim is "totally divergent from the perception of the Taiwanese people," which is deeply regrettable, the MAC said.
During his current visit to mainland China, the 72-year-old former president of the opposition Kuomintang has on several public occasions mentioned the ROC, which was founded in the mainland in 1912. The ROC government relocated to Taiwan after losing the civil war against the Chinese Communist Party in 1949.
Ma began his visit to several Chinese cities on March 27 and went to Nanjing and Wuhan before arriving in Changsha on Saturday. He will next travel to Chongqing on Monday then Shanghai on Wednesday and is scheduled to return to Taiwan on April 7.
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