'1992 Consensus between Taiwan and China' verified by history: Ma

'1992 Consensus between Taiwan and China' verified by history: Ma
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou

TAIPEI - President Ma Ying-jeou stated yesterday during an international conference on cross-strait relations that the "1992 Consensus" between Taiwan and mainland China was "recognised, and agreed to, by the respective parties" including the United States.

He made the opening remarks during the "International Conference on Retrospect and Prospect on Cross-Strait Relations," organised jointly by the Mainland Affairs Council and the Foundation on Asian-Pacific Peace Studies (FAPS).

The president used the occasion to cite three "historical documents" where Taiwan, China and the United States all recognised the "1992 Consensus," in which both sides of the Taiwan Strait recognise the existence of only one China and agree to differ on its definition.

Ma recalled that four days after his election as president in 2008, former Chinese leader Hu Jintao and former US President George W. Bush spoke over the telephone regarding the development of cross-strait relations.

In that conversation, Hu proposed that "consultation and talks on the basis of the '1992 Consensus'" could be utilized to restart stalled cross-strait talks. Ma inferred that the conversation "confirms that mainland China and the United States both recognise the '1992 Consensus.'"

Before mentioning the US policy stance, Ma affirmed that a meeting chaired by former President Lee Teng-hui at the National Unification Council in 1992, as well as a verbal agreement between members of the two cross-strait semi-official bodies charged with negotiations between the two sides indicated that the existence of the "1992 Consensus" can be verified.

Ma elaborated that the two bodies, Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Associations for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) of mainland China, did not reach a consensus on the meaning of "one China" at first in October 1992, but that a subsequent fax sent by ARATS in November of that year indicated that it "respected and accepted" an SEF suggestion on the respective interpretations of the "One China Principle."

Useful Ambiguity: Ma

In defending his administration's cross-strait agenda, Ma denied that the "1992 Consensus" was a panacea for all problems between Taiwan and China, but that it represented a core commitment of upholding the nation's sovereignty.

His remarks are part of recently stepped-up efforts by the administration to solidify the agreement as a cornerstone of policy that has reduced tension and promoted economic prosperity in the region. Ma and the ruling Kuomintang continue to criticise as vague 2016 presidential candidate and Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen's proposal to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

"It is true that the '1992 Consensus' has been criticised as an ambiguous concept. Some even call it a 'masterpiece of ambiguity,'" Ma concluded, while drawing laughter. "But so what? As long as it works, and it works well."

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