Taipei, Beijing show willingness to discuss '92 consensus'
The China Post news staffTAIPEI, Taiwan -- A little more than one month after Taipei and Beijing signed a landmark economic pact, officials from both sides were showing willingness to tackle what is arguably the most sensitive political issue in cross-strait negotiations.
August 13, 2010, 9:46 am TWN
President Ma Ying-jeou's spokesperson Lo Chih-chiang said yesterday that the “1992 consensus” is as the most important basis for Taiwan to seek continued improvement of relations with China.
The so-called “1992 consensus” refers to the doctrine of “one China, separate interpretations,” (that there is only one China to which both Taiwan and the mainland are part of, but Taipei and Beijing can reach different interpretations as to what that “one China” refers to), Lo said.
“As to 'one China,' we are referring to the Republic of China,” Lo said, highlighting Taiwan's difference with China on the content of the “1992 consensus” and “one China.”
Lo made his comment one day after a senior Chinese official made what is seen by the local media as Beijing's first open referral to the idea “1992 consensus,” which is mostly used in Taiwan.
The term “1992 consensus,” an unofficial term describing the outcome of the 1992 meeting between Taiwanese and mainland Chinese officials in Hong Kong, was only widely used after 2000 when Su Chi, an official from Taiwan's then Democratic Progressive Party government, coined the term to (in Su's own words) “repackage the idea” by avoiding the words “separate interpretations” (disliked by Beijing) and “one China” (frowned upon by the pro-independent DPP).
In the past, Chinese officials mostly referred to their understanding of the 1992 meeting as the “one China principle,” which asserted the mainland as the legal representative of the “one China.”
In a rare mentioning of the “1992 consensus” by a Chinese official, Li Yafei, vice president of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, said Wednesday that sticking to an anti-independence stance and the “1992 consensus” has allowed Taiwan and China to build trust and avoid confrontation over the past two years.
Li specifically explained the consensus as “separately verbalizing the 'one China' principle adhered to by the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.”
Lo agreed that the “1992 consensus” has allowed the two sides to accumulate trust and goodwill, saying that it eventually lead them toward reconciliation and cooperation.
The government will continue to follow the “1992 consensus” and the policy of “no unification, no independence, no use of force” to pursue cross-strait peace and prosperity, he said.
Despite showing a more familiar stance by using the term “1992 consensus,” Li's depiction does not vary from the position long held by mainland China that such consensus allows merely the separate interpretations of the one China “principle” (a term used by the mainland and denotes the referral of Beijing as the legal representative of China) instead of what “one China” means.
Indeed, some experts saw Li's comment as a move by Beijing to once again clarify their position in the “one China” issue and to deliberately highlight how Beijing understands the “1992 consensus” differently.
While Taiwan and China are far from reaching a clear agreement on the “one China” issue, the mentioning of the “1992 consensus” can be seen as a sign of willingness by the both sides to begin discussing political issues after they sealed the historic economic cooperation framework agreement, which is better known in Taiwan as the ECFA.