Taipei, Jan. 14 (CNA) National Taiwan University Professor Chang Ya-chung (張亞中), who is seeking the leadership of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), said Tuesday that the party should continue to uphold the "1992 consensus" as the basis of its policy toward China.
In a radio interview, Chang said the "1992 consensus" is the foundation of the party's cross-Taiwan Strait policy, and if the KMT abandons the consensus, it will be moving away from its traditional stance.
"If the KMT ditches its basic stance, it might as well disband and form a new party," said Chang, a political science professor who is also chairman of the pro-unification Chinese Integration Association.
The KMT, therefore, should stick to the "1992 consensus" instead of ditching it as some younger party members have suggested, he said.
Chang on Monday announced his intention to seek the chairmanship of the party when the incumbent Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) resigns later this week following the KMT's resounding defeat in the Jan. 11 presidential and legislative elections.
Last year, Chang stepped forward to make a bid for the presidency but lost in the KMT primary to Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜).
In Tuesday's interview, he said the KMT should not try to imitate the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) by adopting its cross-strait policy.
The KMT is the only party in Taiwan that has the capability to create cross-strait peace by reducing to zero the chances of an attack by China, Chang said.
On the other hand, the DPP's "anti-China sentiment" will only hurt Taiwan's interests, Chang added.
He said that if he is elected party leader, he will push for discussions between the KMT and Chinese Communist Party on a cross-strait peace accord.
Chang's comments came after some younger KMT members called for the party to ditch the "1992 consensus," saying it is an outdated policy that does not resonate with the young generation and is one of the reasons why the party suffered a huge defeat last Saturday.
In the Jan. 11 presidential election, the KMT's Han lost to incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the DPP by nearly 20 percentage points.
The DPP also retained its majority in the Legislature, winning 61 seats to the KMT's 38, despite the opposition party's confidence during the campaign that it would gain the majority.
After the elections, KMT Chairman Wu said he would resign this week to take responsibility for the party's defeat, and so far, only Chang has come forward in a bid to replace him.
The KMT announced Tuesday that its chairmanship election will be held on March 7.
The "1992 consensus" was a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then-KMT government and the Chinese government.
The consensus has been consistently interpreted by the KMT as both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledging there is only "one China," with each free to interpret what "China" means.
However, Beijing has never publicly recognized the second part of the KMT's interpretation.
President Tsai and her DPP, meanwhile, have said the "consensus" was "a mere illusion" because China does not recognize the idea that each side is free to interpret "one China" as it sees fit.
As a result of the DPP's policy on that issue, China has taken a hardline stance against Taiwan since Tsai took office in May 2016.
Meanwhile, a Taiwanese scholar told CNA Sunday that the KMT's usual cross-strait rhetoric, based on the "1992 consensus," has no market in today's world.
Chang Wu-yueh (張五岳), a professor in the Graduate Institute of China Studies at Tamkang University, said when the "1992 consensus" was formulated nearly three decades ago, most people in Taiwan still considered themselves as "Chinese" and were thus supportive of a cross-strait unification goal, but that is no longer the case.
During the recent election campaign, the DPP promoted its "anti-China" stance as a means of protecting Taiwan democracy, Chang Wu-yueh said.
In addition, shortly after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) last year called for China's unification with Taiwan under the "one country, two-systems" model that exists in Hong Kong, the people of Taiwan had an opportunity to see the protests that emerged in Hong Kong as the people there called for more democratic rights, he said.
However, Wang Hsin-hsien (王信賢), a professor at National Chengchi University's Graduate Institute of East Asian Studies, said the KMT should think carefully before replacing the "1992 consensus" with new cross-strait rhetoric.
"What would differentiate the party from the DPP" if the KMT ignores its historical background and ditches its cross-strait policy?" Wang said in an interview with CNA.
The KMT should also consider whether China would accept its new cross-strait rhetoric and how the U.S. would view such a change, Wang added.
After last Saturday's election, several young KMT members, including lawmakers Chiang Chi-chen (江啟臣) and Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) who were reelected to the Legislature, announced their resignation from the party's Central Standing Committee, calling for reform within the decision-making body.
In a Facebook post Sunday, Chiang Chi-chen urged other members of the committee to follow suit and form an hoc committee to serve until a new KMT chairman is elected.
The ad hoc committee should consist of younger KMT members and KMT mayors and magistrates from across the country, who would come up with concrete measures to implement party reform, he suggested.
"The party has no chance of regaining power unless it gets serious about fundamental reform," he wrote.
Chiang Wan-an, meanwhile, said the KMT Central Standing Committee has not been performing well in its role of responding promptly to the issues the Taiwanese people care about, and it thus needs a revamp.