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DPP's VP candidate challenges applicability of '1992 consensus'

12/19/2023 09:15 PM
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The ruling Democratic Progressive Party Vice Presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim at a campaign rally in Chiayi City on Tuesday. CNA photo Dec. 19, 2023
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party Vice Presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim at a campaign rally in Chiayi City on Tuesday. CNA photo Dec. 19, 2023

Taipei, Dec. 19 (CNA) The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Vice Presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) questioned the relevance of the "1992 Consensus," a key element of the main opposition Kuomintang's (KMT) China policy, claiming that it is outdated, at a campaign rally in Yunlin on Tuesday.

"The KMT insists on adhering to the 1992 consensus, a stance they have maintained for over 30 years. However, our society is focused on moving forward, isn't it?" she said at the rally in central Taiwan.

The consensus was a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then KMT government of the Republic of China (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.

However, Beijing has never publicly recognized the second part of the KMT's interpretation.

The DPP has never acknowledged the "1992 consensus," arguing that Beijing does not recognize the Republic of China and that acceptance of the consensus would imply agreement with China's claim over Taiwan.

Beijing considers Taipei's acceptance of the "1992 consensus" a prerequisite for dialogue between the two sides and has cut off all communications with Taipei since the DPP came to power in 2016.

In Hoklo (Taiwanese), a language commonly used in central and southern Taiwan, Hsiao asked at the campaign event: "How can we rely on proposals from three decades ago to navigate the future world?"

China in 1992 was just beginning its journey towards reform and opening up, when then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平) toured the south and advocated for a low-key approach and emphasized economic development, Taiwan's former envoy to Washington said.

This prompted numerous Taiwanese businesses to invest and engage in business in China, given its ongoing process of reform and opening up to the world at the time, she added.

"However, the China we witness today is different from that of 1992. China has been suppressing human rights, impacting many Taiwanese businesses there," she noted.

During the presidency of former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) (2008-2016) of the KMT, many Taiwanese businesses invested heavily in China after the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with Beijing in 2010, Hsiao said.

"Now we are in a situation where we've placed numerous eggs in one basket, and unfortunately, that basket has encountered some issues," according to Hsiao.

For example, the unemployment rate among Chinese youth has passed 20 percent, with some scholars suggesting it may even reach as high as 40 percent, the former diplomat noted.

To mitigate the risks of "putting too many eggs in one basket," Hsiao said Taiwan has affirmed its commitment to "connect with the world." Consequently, it became the first country with which U.S. President Biden signed a trade agreement after assuming office in 2021.

She was referring to the Taiwan-United States Initiative on 21st-Century Trade in June 2022, with the first agreement under the initiative signed by both sides in June 2023.

According to Hsiao, the current trade volume between the U.S. and Taiwan is over twice as much as when the DPP's Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) won the presidency in 2016.

Hsiao, 52, resigned from her previous position as Taiwanese representative to the U.S. in November, where she had served for over three years, to join the ticket of DPP presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德).

The Lai-Hsiao ticket is currently leading in most polls, though their lead has fallen over the past few weeks, as the January presidential election approaches.

(By Chung Yu-chen)

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