China Voice: Cards on table time for Taiwan politicians on cross-Strait ties
2015/04/20

BEIJING, April 18 (Xinhua) -- Top Taiwanese politicians with varied political backgrounds have nailed their colors to the mast on ties across the Taiwan Strait, riveting people both on and off the island.

Eric Chu, chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, announced last week that he will lead a delegation to the upcoming Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Culture Forum, due to be held in Shanghai on May 3.

The move came after the new KMT chair said during a forum in Hong Kong that the KMT's position on the "1992 Consensus" was consistent and his party will continue exchanges with the Communist Party of China (CPC).

At the core of the 1992 Consensus, an agreement reached in 1992, is the acknowledgment that the Chinese mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China.

When commenting on the 1992 Consensus on March 30, Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je said "one China" is not a problematic principle and that agreements already signed between the mainland and Taiwan should be respected.

Addressing a meeting earlier this month, Tsai Ing-wen, chair of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said the DPP's principle in handling cross-Strait ties is to "maintain the status quo" of peace with the mainland and ensure that cross-Strait ties continue to strengthen.

Why have the island's top politicians gone on the record in such quick succession?

Firstly, it is because cross-Strait relations are vital to Taiwan's stability and development.

Even Tsai, the DPP's candidate for the island's 2016 leadership election, admitted that cross-Strait ties are vitally important to the long-term interests of the island's population of 23 million.

Secondly, whether the cross-Strait situation remains stable and in what direction the relationship moves have become a collective concern for people in Taiwan in the run-up to the island's leadership election slated for January 2016.

Major political parties and figures in the island have to face public opinion and clearly specify their policies and stance on cross-Strait issues.

The three personages' remarks, which differed markedly on whether they acknowledge the 1992 Consensus, were viewed and received by mainland authorities and Taiwanese media in drastically different ways.

The mainland's Taiwan affairs authority has welcomed Chu's upcoming visit to the mainland, while Taiwan media generally believe his visit will be a win-win move for both the KMT and Chu himself in terms of boosting morale dampened by the party's defeat in the Nov. 29 local government elections.

As to Ko's remarks, a mainland spokesperson expressed appreciation the next day, saying the mayor's comments should promote exchanges between Taipei and the mainland and that a forum between Taipei and the mainland city of Shanghai is being planned.

Taiwanese journalists interpreted the remarks as showing Ko's willingness to assume a new role in the development of cross-Strait ties.

Though admitting progress compared with her previous rhetoric, Taiwan's mainstream media complained that Tsai's "maintain the status quo" comment remains vague and failed to specify whether the DPP acknowledges the 1992 Consensus.

Commenting on Tsai's remarks, a mainland spokesperson on Wednesday urged the DPP to distance itself from the independence movement, saying the Party's cross-Strait relations policy is being dragged down by its "one country on each side" concept.

Cross-Strait ties have developed peacefully and remarkable progress has been made since 2008, building on the very political foundation of upholding the 1992 Consensus and opposing Taiwan independence.

How to maintain the good momentum has become a required question for Taiwan's politicians to answer.

Both Chu and Ko have submitted their initial answers, which were well received and encouraged by people from both sides.

For Tsai, the DPP's candidate for the island's 2016 leadership election,however, CPC-DPP exchanges will not be possible and peaceful development of cross-Strait ties will be hard to sustain if she remains vague on a key issue like the 1992 Consensus.

 

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