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Chang Hsien-yao: Keys to Stable Cross-Strait Development are to Base Dialogue on the "1992 Consensus of One China with Respective Interpretations" and Promote Institutionalized Negotiations

  • Date:2013-08-17

August 17, 2013
No. 62

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao explained the government's Mainland policy today (August 16) in a speech during a visit to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in New York, after which he joined the local Chinese media in a tea reception arranged by the TECO.

Deputy Minister Chang stated that the cross-strait policy stance of the Republic of China (ROC) government is to pragmatically position cross-strait relations under the framework of the ROC Constitution. First amendments to the Constitution were made in 1991, stipulating clearly in Article 11 of the Additional Articles of the Constitution that the rights and obligations between the people of the Chinese Mainland area and those of the free area, and the disposition of other related affairs may be specified by law. The position of cross-strait relations has not changed throughout the seven constitutional amendments afterwards. Moreover, the government has formulated the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area based on the Constitution, and is the constitutional position of the ROC current cross-strait relations.

Deputy Minister Chang explained to the audience that three important developments have been achieved since President Ma Ying-jeou came into office in 2008; first, the resumption of cross-strait dialogue based on the 1992 Consensus, whereby each side maintains its respective definition of one China; second, the promotion of institutionalized cross-strait negotiations to steadily resolve problems arising from cross-strait exchanges; and third, the signing of 19 agreements through institutionalized negotiations to build cross-strait peace and stability. The government's current cross-strait policy stance is established under the ROC Constitution framework, to pragmatically position cross-strait relations, promote cross-strait negotiations, establish a foundation of mutual trust, sequentially promote benign cross-strait exchange, facilitate institutionalize cross-strait relations, and to create a new era for peace across the Strait.

Deputy Minister Chang pointed out that international experts and scholars on Asia-Pacific region security or cross-strait relations are curious in general about the key factors in stabilizing cross-strait relations. Deputy Minister Chang stated that two factors have been essential to the stable development of cross-strait relations. The first key factor has been to base cross-strait dialogue on "the 1992 Consensus, whereby each side maintains its respective definition of one China." President Ma stated in 2011 that the "1992 Consensus" is rooted in the Constitution of the Republic of China, and by supporting the "1992 Consensus" would be supporting the ROC and the constitutional positioning of cross-strait relations. The report of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in 2012 also refered to the common position of adhering to the "1992 Consensus." Deputy Minister Chang said that the ROC is a sovereign and independent country, and stressed that under the ROC Constitution framework, "one China" is the Republic of China. The "1992 Consensus" is consistent with provisions on the sovereignty, territory and status of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait as set forth in the Constitution, it also defines the greatest consensus for cross-strait development. The second key factor is the establishment of institutionalized cross-strait negotiations based on the "1992 Consensus", which shown through public opinion surveys commissioned by the MAC, is supported by about 70% of the people in Taiwan. The 19 agreements signed through institutionalized cross-strait negotiations are also tangible indicators of peace and stability in cross-strait relations.

Deputy Minister Chang also mentioned that the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement signed at the recently held Ninth Round of Cross-Strait High-Level Talks between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) is a follow-up agreement of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), and is also the first free trade agreement signed between the two sides in accordance with the ECFA and Article 5 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) General Agreement on Trade in Services. According to the principle of "maximizing benefits and minimizing impact," the competent authorities in Taiwan have been communicating with the Mainland authorities to secure the best interests for Taiwan. Under the Agreement, Taiwan has committed to opening 64 service sectors, while the Mainland has committed to opening 80 sectors. These pledges go beyond WTO commitments, and in 20 sectors even exceed treatment granted to Hong Kong under the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. Some people in Taiwan have misunderstood or are misinformed about the Trade in Services Agreement, where in fact, the four major future benefits of the Agreement are to substansively upgrade ECFA benefits, expand the scope of cross-strait mutual trust, strengthen the message of Taiwan's trade liberalization conveyed abroad, and help businesses tap the Mainland market, all of which are vital to Taiwan's future economic development.

During the talk, Deputy Minister Chang elaborated on the three focal tasks in the government's promotion of Mainland policy, including "broadening and deepening cross-strait exchanges," "promoting the establishment of reciprocal institutions between the SEF and the ARATS" and "comprehensively reviewing and amending the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area." Deputy Minister Chang also pointed out that the key to future cross-strait developments lies in the deepening of economic and trade exchanges and strengthening cross-strait mutual trust.

The tea reception was joined by about 50 participants, including Ambassador Andrew J.C. Kao of the TECO in New York, colleagues of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and members of the local Chinese media. The event was successfully concluded after two hours and 30 minutes.