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Mainland Affairs Council


Key Points from Remarks Made at a Meeting with ARATS Chairman Wang Daohan

Koo Chen-fu
Straits Exchange Foundation , Republic of China
October 14, 1998

It is a great pleasure to be able to visit the Chinese mainland and to meet with Chairman Wang today. Last November, the Straits Exchange Foundation suggested in a letter that I visit the Chinese mainland with a delegation. I am happy that this trip has been made possible after a series of discussions and consultations between the two sides. This meeting today with Chairman Wang brings to mind a scene from our talks in Singapore five years ago. During that meeting, in an atmosphere of friendship, we made many fruitful accomplishments, and signed four agreements, including the Agreement on the Establishment of Systematic Liaison and Communication Between the SEF and the ARATS (Association of Relations across the Taiwan Straits). By so doing, we established institutionalized channels of consultation, which indeed was a major step forward in the development of cross-strait relations.

During my present visit to Shanghai and Peking, and in my meeting with you, Chairman Wang, and with related individuals, it is hoped that we can strengthen mutual understanding and eliminate unnecessary misunderstandings through forthright communication and the free exchange of opinions. We also hope that this will foster a friendly atmosphere for the advancement of the SEF and ARATS mandates, and more so, create new opportunities for the resumption of the established channels of communication, which have been suspended for more than three years. We further hope that this will lead to an early convening of the second round of talks between the leaders of the SEF and the ARATS. It is also our hope that the two sides can exchange their opinions on important issues of concern through constructive dialogue so as to build up mutual trust and establish common ground for positive interactions, thereby creating favorable conditions conducive to enhanced and steady cross-strait relations over the long term.

The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits has suggested in recent years that we abandon practical consultations on technical matters and proceed with discussions on political negotiations. I do not think that we can forgo discussions on technical issues which are closely interwoven with the rights and interests of the people. Over the past decade, increased contacts and visits by people to each other's shores and the rapid expansion of cross-strait trade and investment have made civilian exchanges a very important part of cross-strait relations. These exchanges have led to a number of important issues, such as the safety of Taiwan residents in the mainland area; the protection of investments by Taiwan businessmen on the Chinese mainland; related customs and tariffs issues; the handling of fishery disputes; the repatriation of illegal entrants and joint efforts to combat crime; as well as mutual assistance concerning judicial matters. All of these issues, as well as problems arising from contacts between the SEF and the ARATS, have been left unresolved because of the unilateral suspension of institutionalized consultations by the ARATS in June 1995. As a result, cross-strait relations have also taken a reverse in direction.

Both the SEF and the ARATS are private organizations formally authorized by our respective governments to handle cross-strait matters. It is imperative that we both abide by the agreements signed in Singapore as an expression of our sincerity. We must resume institutionalized communication as soon as possible, and commit ourselves to resolving these issues of concern to the people which are less politically controversial. Moreover, we hope that during our technical consultations, we can identify the political obstacles which we could rationally remove one by one in future communication. This is the correct path to establishing the "mutual trust" that is lacking on both sides.

It has been nearly 50 years since the two sides of the Taiwan Strait became two equal entities under divided rule and not subordinate to each other. A "divided China" is not only an historical fact, but also a political reality. In 1991, the ROC announced the termination of the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion, thereby renouncing the use of military force to resolve problems related to the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Since then, the Republic of China has made concrete contributions to promote peace between the two sides by expanding the scope of exchanges and actively carrying out consultations.

Unfortunately, the Chinese mainland is unwilling to face this reality, or to abandon the use of force against Taiwan. Peking has resorted to whatever means it can find to squeeze our international presence. It is obvious that the ROC is one of the most important political and economic entities in the world. Peking's efforts to make the ROC invisible in the international community will only provoke an opposite reaction by the people of Taiwan and will make no positive contribution to the good of improving bilateral relations. This, the ROC cannot accept. Therefore, only when the two sides are positioned on an equal footing and fully respect each other will political dialogue be meaningful. We hope that the two sides can respect the fact that both are currently under divided rule. Based on that reality, the two sides can develop constructive dialogue and work step by step for the long-term welfare of the whole Chinese people across the Taiwan Straits and for the future unification of China under democracy.

We noticed that Chairman Wang has quite a flexible view on the definition of the "one China" principle. Such a point of view has evoked great concern in the Chinese mainland. In addition, Mr. Qiang Qichen recently proposed a principle that defines "one China" differently in the international community and in China. We are confused as to which is the actual standard. It is important that we point out here that a modern country should not apply different standards to interpret the same policy. More important, since the two sides are equal entities, they should not be treated differently. Therefore, we hope that we can obtain accurate information on the "one China" principle in order to avoid any misjudgment.

I would like to emphasize that the pursuit of national democratization and modernization is an unstoppable trend in today's world. It is also the right direction for the long-term, stable development of cross-strait relations. Democratization on the Chinese mainland and the development of cross-strait relations are decisive factors in the process of our national reunification. It is hoped that the Chinese mainland can sufficiently understand the significant change of democratization which Taiwan has undergone over the past five decades. We would be more than happy to share with our mainland counterparts our development experiences in democratization and economic transformation in order to create a "win-win" situation of reciprocity and mutual trust. By so doing, we will not only be able to form the solid strength necessary for the security and prosperity of the East Asian region, but we will also be able to live up to the expectations of the international community and contribute actively to world peace as a whole.

In closing, I would like to take this opportunity to invite Chairman Wang to visit Taiwan at an opportune time or whenever it is at Chairman Wang's convenience. I believe that a visit to Taiwan will further deepen understanding and help improve relations between the two sides of the strait.