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President Ma attends event marking 23rd anniversary of Koo-Wang Talks, unveils monument to cross-strait peace

On the morning of April 29, President Ma Ying-jeou attended an event in Taiwan's offshore island of Kinmen commemorating the 23rd anniversary of the Koo-Wang Talks [talks between Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫, former Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman) and Wang Daohan (汪道涵, former Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman) held in Singapore. The event included the unveiling of a monument to cross-strait peace by the president, who in remarks summarized improvements in cross-strait relations over the past eight years. He also expressed hope that the two sides will continue to shelve disputes and pursue win-win solutions, thus turning the Taiwan Strait into a sea of sustained peace and prosperity.
Upon arrival in Kinmen, President Ma first proceeded to the Kinmen Peace Memorial Park, where he unveiled the peace monument, accompanied by Vice President Wu Den-yih, Secretary-General to the President Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權), National Security Council Secretary-General Kao Hua-chu (高華柱), Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Andrew L. Y. Hsia (夏立言), and Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森).
In remarks, President Ma stated that Kinmen occupies a position of great importance in cross-strait relations. He went on to say that he had come to Kinmen at this juncture not only to take a fond look back at the meeting 23 years ago between Mr. Koo and Mr. Wang that laid the foundation for institutionalized cross-strait talks, but also to erect a cross-strait peace monument in the very place that was once a tremendous battlefield, and to commemorate the important strides toward cross-strait peace that have been made over the past eight years. For eight years, the government has consistently sought under the framework of the ROC Constitution to maintain the status quo of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force" in the Taiwan Strait, and to seek peaceful cross-strait relations in line with the 1992 Consensus—whereby each side acknowledges the existence of "one China" but maintains its own interpretation of what that means. These concepts, together with the principle of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people," have constituted the core elements of cross-strait policy, and provided an unshakeable "status quo in the Taiwan Strait." These are all key elements of cross-strait policy, each one an indispensable part of the "status quo in the Taiwan Strait."
President Ma noted that the armed forces of the ROC won victory in Kinmen at the ferocious Battle of Guningtou in 1949, turning back an assault by Communist forces. This victory, he said, ensured the continued existence of constitutional democracy in Taiwan, and instituted separate rule on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Since then, military conflict has broken out between the two sides on a number of occasions. The most notable of these was the August 23 Artillery War of Kinmen in 1958, a 44-day onslaught in which 470,000 artillery shells rained down on Kinmen, which has a land area of only 150 square kilometers. The ROC forces and civilians in Kinmen staged a fierce, united resistance that secured peace in the Taiwan Strait and enabled everyone back in Taiwan to go about their daily lives unaffected.
After the August 23 Artillery War of 1958 in Kinmen, military tensions between the two sides gradually subsided. In July of 1987 the ROC government lifted martial law in Taiwan and Penghu, and in November of that same year it began allowing people from Taiwan to visit relatives in mainland China, thus opening a new chapter in private relations across the Taiwan Strait. On September 20, 1990, representatives from The Red Cross Societies of the two sides met in Kinmen to discuss the repatriation of cross-strait stowaways and persons convicted or suspected of cross-strait criminal activity. These talks resulted in the signing of the Kinmen Accord. There was disagreement on how to express the year of the accord's signing, so they decided to just note the month and date of the signing, which stands as a prime example of how the two sides have sought to "find commonalities despite differences, and together create win-win solutions."
Commenting on the Koo-Wang Talks, President Ma stated that if the "Red Cross talks" in Kinmen could be described as having created the "shelve disputes, engage in pragmatic discussions" approach to cross-strait relations, then the Koo-Wang Talks in April of 1993 in Singapore might well be considered a very important first instance of institutionalized cross-strait talks. In 1991, Taiwan established the SEF while the mainland set up its counterpart organization, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). In October of 1992 these two organizations held working-level talks in Hong Kong. The mainland representatives called for a statement of shared commitment to the "one China" principle. The talks ended without any consensus being reached, but Taiwan did not give up. Instead, it sent a letter to propose that "both sides should commit to the 'one China' principle while defining the term somewhat differently, with each side verbally stating its own interpretation of what 'one China' means." The ARATS later sent a return letter to the SEF indicating it was willing to "respect and accept" the SEF's proposal. It is thus quite clear that Taiwan put forward a proposal that was accepted by the mainland. "If that's not a consensus," said the president, "then I don't know what is."
The president further stated that the 1992 Consensus laid the foundation for cross-strait ties. In April of 1993, SEF Chairman Koo Chen-fu and ARATS Chairman Wang Daohan successfully signed four agreements in Singapore. That marked the first time government-authorized bodies from the two sides signed formal agreements in a third jurisdiction since Taiwan and the mainland had come under separate rule over 40 years earlier in 1949. This was a momentous step toward cross-strait peace.
The consensus achieved in 1992 and the Koo-Wang Talks held in 1993, said the president, represented "a great stride forward" in cross-strait relations. But the succeeding 15 years were characterized by great instability; indeed, the two sides at one point were on the verge of military conflict. It was only after President Ma took office in May of 2008 that the two sides returned to the 1992 Consensus. In the eight years since then, the two sides have signed 23 agreements, and the number of regularly scheduled direct cross-strait flights has risen from zero to 890 per week. And in November of last year, he met in Singapore, predicated on equality and dignity, with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) and exchanged views on how to consolidate cross-strait peace and maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. During that meeting, said the president, he told Mr. Xi that the two sides had reached a consensus in November of 1992 that states: "Both sides of the Taiwan Strait insist on the 'one China' principle, but differ as to what that means, and each side could express its interpretation verbally." This is the 1992 Consensus—"one China, respective interpretations."
President Ma remarked that the Taiwan Strait has been transformed from a potential battlefield into a plaza of peace and marketplace of prosperity, and said that his purpose in unveiling the cross-strait peace monument in Kinmen was to act upon the spirit of "beating swords into plowshares" and seeking peace.
Commenting on Kenya's recent deportation of ROC nationals to mainland China, President Ma noted that when Taiwan and mainland China signed the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement in 2009, they did so with the understanding that each side would adhere to a policy of "mutual non-recognition of sovereignty, and mutual non-denial of governing authority." The Kenya incident, he said, involved the issue of governing authority, in that the two sides have concurrent jurisdiction over the criminal activity in question. The incident does not touch upon the issue of sovereignty, but is a simple matter of figuring out how to come up with an appropriate division of labor for the exercise of governing authority within the two sides' area of concurrent jurisdiction. In point of fact, said the president, officials from Taiwan's MAC and Ministry of Justice were scheduled to travel to the mainland in early May to establish general principles and standard operating procedures for the handling of various types of crimes. The aim is to ensure that the aforementioned cross-strait agreement will yield more concrete benefits.
Regarding the results achieved through cross-strait judicial assistance, President Ma pointed out that people in Taiwan accounted for many of the victims of scam operations in the past, but the government in recent years has actively cracked down on such crime, and people in Taiwan have become more wary. The result has been a sharp drop in scam operations and much less money stolen. These days more and more of the victims are located in mainland China, so Taiwan's government must do the right thing by helping to bring criminals to justice.
The president also stressed that the peace dividends from improved cross-strait relations have spilled over into the area of international relations. The current state of cross-strait peace and prosperity is strongly supported by the people of Taiwan, and is also viewed in a very positive light by the international community. However, the idea of "maintaining the status quo" is not just an empty slogan, nor can its achievement be taken for granted. Taking the "1992 Consensus, respective interpretations" concept as the political basis is the best and most effective way to conduct cross-strait relations, said the president, who expressed hope that the two sides will keep moving forward by building upon what's been achieved thus far, and that they will continue to "shelve disputes and pursue win-win solutions."
President Ma also fielded questions from reporters about the significance of his unveiling of the peace monument in Kinmen, the 1992 Consensus, his vision for "Peace in the Three Seas," and other such issues.
After concluding his remarks, President Ma walked to the Peace Bell Memorial Square, where he rang the bell along with Vice President Wu, MAC Chairman Hsia, SEF Chairman Lin, and Mr. Koo's widow (Cecilia Yen Koo) and son (Leslie C. Koo). The ringing of the bell symbolized hopes for cross-strait peace, sustained prosperity, and a shared pursuit of win-win solutions.
【Source: Office of the President】