Do Not Underestimate Importance of 1992 Consensus to Cross-Strait Relations
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 17, 2011
Summary: National leaders represent the national will. They carry the nation's aspirations on their shoulders. They must be able to gain the people's trust. They must not provoke uncertainty. They must offer people a sense of security. We hope the presidential candidates will act responsibly and make a solemn promise to the people. If you win office, you will continue to honor the 1992 Consensus. If you win office, you will expand the scope of cross-Strait exchanges made possible by the 1992 Consensus.
Full Text Below:
Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) commemorated its 20th anniversary. Beijing's CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin issued a statement. He reminded everyone that the 1992 Consensus exists. It is a hard fact. Denying its existence will make cross-Strait negotiations impossible, It will make agreements reached during past consultations difficult to implement. It will lead to the recurrence of past cross-Strait tensions. Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office Director Wang Yi stressed that "The 1992 Consensus must not be denied. Cross-Strait relations must not regress." This was followed by explicit expressions about the future of cross-Strait relations by even higher-level leaders in Beijing.
The presidential election is less than a month off. At this crucial moment, ruling and opposition party candidates must realize that the 1992 Consensus is the basis of mutual trust, and the path that will benefit Taiwan the most. DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen in particular must think twice. She must recognize and reaffirm that the interests of the public on Taiwan transcends political ideology. She must make the pragmatic choices.
Several points in Jia Qinglin's remarks warrant attention. First, he reaffirmed the reality of the 1992 Consensus. He pointed out that in 1992, ARATS and the SEF reached an oral agreement on the One China Principle. This is what people today commonly refer to as the 1992 Consensus. This laid the political foundation for cross-Strait negotiations, This contributed to the Wang-Koo talks held the following year. This constituted an important step in cross-Strait relations. Secondly, he reiterated that cross-Strait negotiations are a priority. They are vital to the interests of compatriots on both sides of the Strait, Negotiations should actively consider the needs of most ordinary citizens, SMEs, and young people, Negotiations should expand cross-Strait exchanges and cooperation, and expand the benefits to the public on both sides of the Strait. Thirdly, he explicitly said the two sides should avoid unnecessary friction in foreign affairs. He said he understood the concerns of Taiwan compatriots, including their desire to participate in international activities. He said Beijing was willing to make reasonable arrangements for cross-Strait consultations.
Jia Qinglin's remarks made no mention of the upcoming presidential election, But his remarks brimmed over with implied concern that cross-Strait relations might regress. Beijing apparently considers the 1992 Consensus its bottom line for further cross-Strait developments.
The global economy has yet to fully recover from the financial tsunami. The impact on the ROC over the past three years has been milder compared to other countries. That is because the government implemented various measures. Other factors also had a major role. These factors include stable cross-Strait relations, direct links, Mainland tourists visiting Taiwan, and the sale of Taiwan's agricultural products, fish, and electrical appliances to the Mainland. The signing of ECFA has enabled Taiwan to attract more international funds. Looking to the future, we expect continued peaceful cross-Strait relations. This includes the ECFA early harvest list. Ninety-four percent of the items on the list will be tariff free in January, one month from now. The public on Taiwan will find it easier to enter and exit the Mainland. The Mainland is even considering importing rice from Taiwan. It is considering normalizing market-based procurement mechanisms for the purchase of a variety of products. These products are relevant to the pragmatic interests of the public on Taiwan. National leaders cannot afford to ignore them. Tsai Ing-wen stands a good chance of being elected. She too needs to think about what is more important. Is it realizing the DPP's goal of Taiwan independence? Or is it fulfiling the needs of the Taiwan public? Two weeks ago, on the eve of the televised presidential debate, Tsai Ing-wen held a press conference. She vowed that following the election she would form a "cross-Strait policy dialogue group." She would make the 1992 Consensus part of the discussions. These vows were part of an attempt to gain the confidence of swing voters. Unfortunately during the debate, Tsai Ing-wen completely reneged on her promises. She reverted to repudiating the 1992 Consensus, pouring cold water on centrist voters.
Without the 1992 Consensus, can the 17 agreements already signed remain in force? Over the past three years regular meetings and consultations between the ARATS and the SEF have been restored, How can they proceed? In the presence of ARATS Vice Chairman Jia Qinglin, SEF Chairman Li Ya-fei assured the Taiwan media that without the 1992 Consensus, regular meetings and consultations between the ARATS and the SEF "would definitely come to an end." The point is not that talks between the leaders of the two associations would come to end. The point is that the benefits conferred upon the public on both sides of the Strait would be lost, All sorts of of jobs beneficial to people on both sides of the Strait would vanish, Most importantly, the losses would affect not just cross-Strait relations, but Taiwan's economic situation.
As we all know, the debt crisis in Europe means the world faces another wave of financial crises, even more serious than the one precipitated by the Lehman Brothers scandal, Taiwan has limited resources. Loss of the Mainland market would sever one of its most important economic arteries. This is why academics and business experts are worried. Some of them are saying that "If Ma is reelected, the economic situation on Taiwan will be bad. But if Tsai Ing-wen is elected, the economic situation on Taiwan will be even worse." Recently Taiwan stocks fell more world stocks, This reflects the uncertainty Taiwan investors feel about the larger situation.
National leaders represent the national will. They carry the nation's aspirations on their shoulders. They must be able to gain the people's trust. They must not provoke uncertainty. They must offer people a sense of security. We hope the presidential candidates will act responsibly and make a solemn promise to the people. If you win office, you will continue to honor the 1992 Consensus. If you win office, you will expand the scope of cross-Strait exchanges made possible by the 1992 Consensus.