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Mixed responses in Taiwan to Ma-Xi meet in Beijing

04/11/2024 10:09 PM
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People in Taipei watch the TV broadcast of the Ma-Xi meeting in Beijing on Wednesday. CNA photo April 10, 2024
People in Taipei watch the TV broadcast of the Ma-Xi meeting in Beijing on Wednesday. CNA photo April 10, 2024

Taipei, April 11 (CNA) Former President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) in Beijing Wednesday was met with a range of support and criticism from the Taiwanese government and Taiwan's major political parties.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), a cabinet-level administrative agency responsible for cross-strait affairs in Taiwan, said in a press release on Wednesday evening that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) extensively promoted the "1992 consensus" and "facilitating integration and unification" and "opposing Taiwan independence" in the meeting.

The MAC stated that Xi has defined the "1992 consensus" as an agreement "to manifest the 'one China principle,'" adding that according to a MAC survey conducted in April, nearly 80 percent of respondents disagree with the CCP's insistence that cross-strait dialogue can only resume under such a framework.

Xi's attempt to unilaterally set the political framework for the ultimate resolution of cross-strait issues without recognizing the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and his move to undermine the country's sovereignty are actions that "the mainstream public opinion in Taiwan has firmly rejected for a long time," the MAC added.

Jan, Jyh-horng, a deputy minister of mainland affairs, speaks at a weekly press briefing in Taipei Thursday. CNA photo April 11, 2024
Jan, Jyh-horng, a deputy minister of mainland affairs, speaks at a weekly press briefing in Taipei Thursday. CNA photo April 11, 2024

However, the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) described Wednesday's reprise of the historic 2015 Ma-Xi summit in Singapore as a "breakthrough," in light of the lack of communication and increased tensions with China under Taiwan's current Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government.

The KMT said Ma had "fully demonstrated" the existence of "equality and mutual respect across the Taiwan Strait" by mentioning the "1992 consensus" as a discourse that allowed respective definitions of "one China" by both sides in 1992.

According to the KMT, Ma's meeting with Xi also showed the international community that Taiwanese society was more than a simple "anti-China" monolith.

The "1992 consensus" was a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then-KMT government of Taiwan and the Chinese government. It has been consistently interpreted by the KMT as an acknowledgment by both sides that there is only "one China," with each side free to interpret what "China" means.

KMT Chairman Eric Chu (center) campaigns for the mayor by-election in Miaoli City Thursday. CNA photo April 11, 2024
KMT Chairman Eric Chu (center) campaigns for the mayor by-election in Miaoli City Thursday. CNA photo April 11, 2024

The DPP, which has consistently framed the "1992 consensus" as an acceptance of Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan, downplayed the significance of Wednesday's talks.

The DPP said Ma's views did not reflect those of the Taiwanese public and called on China to engage in dialogue on the basis of "equality and dignity."

Alluding to Beijing's severing of official communications since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) first came to power in 2016, the DPP said cross-strait interactions should only occur if both sides accept that neither is subordinate to the other.

The Taiwan People's Party (TPP), while praising Ma for reflecting common aspirations for peace and prosperity in his remarks, cautioned that his adherence to the "1992 consensus" may not be shared by the Taiwanese public.

The meeting -- a reprise of the pair's historic 2015 summit in Singapore -- was held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday afternoon and it came at the tail end of Ma's April 1-11 visit to China.

● Ma mentioning Taiwan's official name with Xi deliberate: Academics

After greeting each other with an extended handshake in front of photographers, Xi praised "Mr. Ma" for upholding the "1992 consensus," opposing Taiwanese independence, and promoting the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and exchanges.

Addressing Xi as both "Mr. Xi" and "General Secretary Xi," Ma stated in his remarks that to guarantee the future welfare of their people, both sides of the Taiwan Strait should adhere to the "1992 consensus," oppose Taiwanese independence, and look for common ground while setting aside disputes.

Beijing, which considers acceptance of the "1992 consensus" as a prerequisite for dialogue, has cut off all formal communications with Taipei since the DPP's Tsai came to power in 2016.

(By Sunny Lai)

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