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Mainland Affairs Council

Regular Press Conference Transcript: MAC Minister Chen’s Additional Comments on the Historical Facts of the 1992 Hong Kong Talks

  • Date:2019-01-11

Regular Press Conference Transcript:

 

 

 MAC Minister Chen’s Additional Comments on the

Historical Facts of the 1992 Hong Kong Talks

 

January 11, 2019

Compiled by the Department of Information and Liaison

 

        The public’s supportive comments on PTT (Bulletin Board System)about my last talk (on January 3, 2019) have given me sufficient confidence to give a "second lecture" today. Originally, I did not intend to further discuss this matter. As I said last week, this affair has been debated now for 18 or 19 years. We should turn this page of history and move forward because a new stage has arrived.

        Yesterday (January 9, 2019), however, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) held a meeting to explain its basic position on cross-Strait policy. While we feel it is good for political parties to set out their basic cross-Strait position, some accusations made in that explanation demand me to make further verifications. The KMT stated they believe the "1992 Consensus" is the ”1992 Consensus' reached through negotiations and correspondences between the government-authorized Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) in October 1992.” KMT have always assumed this consensus to be that, "Both sides adhere to the 'one China' principle but agree to orally express their respective views on its connotation." This is not the first time I have read this sentence (35-character maxim). Last year (October 18, 2018), KMT Chairman and former Vice President Wu Den-yih said the basic consensus resulting from the letters exchanged between the two sides in 1992 was the "1992 Consensus." The original wording of the exchanged letters was "Both sides adhere to the 'one China' principle but agree to orally express their respective views on its connotation" He swore that these 35 characters formed the "1992 Consensus" in its own right and was the result of actual exchanged letters.

        Let us go back and look at how these 35 characters came about. Were these 35 characters found together? I come from the academia, and everyone knows that words enclosed in quotation marks represent words spoken together. So, can these 35 characters be found together in the exchanged letters? Frankly, no. I took great pains to track down the letters exchanged between the two sides. Despite my considerable effort, I could only find a few bits and pieces of these 35 characters.

        The earliest and first of these fragments actually came from the Plan 3 that I spoke about last week ("Plan A" in the January 3 manuscript, i.e., of the five Mainland-proposed plans modified by the Taiwan side into three plans). The third of these plans (Plan 8) mentioned that "Both sides adhere to the 'one China' principle, but differ on the definition of 'one China'." Therefore, we can just barely count this as "Both sides adhere to the 'one China' principle, but differ on the definition." As I explained to you last week, this plan was presented mainly to achieve "one China with respective interpretations." It served to show Taiwan's representation, namely that if you want both sides to consent to signing the agreement, then this will be Taiwan's method of representation (signing with the "Republic of China"). But when the CCP saw the "Republic of China," it eluded. So we brought out Plan B, that is, Plan 2 for "oral representation." We demanded to express "Republic of China" in our oral statement. So, after considerable effort, what we can find is, "Both sides adhere to the 'one China' principle, but differ on its definition."

        But what is the source of the sentence, "Both sides agree to orally state their respective interpretations"? A letter from the ARATS on November 16 states that "Both sides of the Taiwan Strait adhere to the basic stance of the 'one China' principle. Discussion of the political implications of 'one China' can be avoided in negotiations on cross-Strait affairs so long as it is clear that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait adhere to the basic position of the 'one China' principle." So, from the outset there was no discussion of the meaning. Please observe, "it does not involve the meaning of 'one China'." As I emphasized again last Monday, the other side was saying "one China, no interpretations." They thought, why do we need to express the meaning of the "one China principle"? After all, they had already stated this meaning clearly to the world: "There is only one China in the world. Taiwan is part of China. The People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing China." This is their "one China principle." One of Beijing's favorite negotiating tactics is to demand that the other side accept "a principle or a framework." But they don't talk about the details of this principle or framework. The principle and framework are both dull and plain. It seems to be harmless. But PRC took the lead to define the content and principles of the framework. For all the countries that have established diplomatic relations with PRC, they must accept this "syllogism." So for them, the meaning is very clear. There is nothing to discuss with Taiwan. There is no need for discussion. So for such a long time, the position of PRC has been "one China, no interpretations."

        However, the other side mentioned that the method of expressing the "one China" principle can be discussed. In other words, you state the "one China" principle and agree to the "one China" principle. There is no need to discuss the meaning of the "one China" principle. But what does it mean that the "one China" principle can be discussed. So it can be written or stated orally. We suggested orally, and included this in Plan B. They plucked out this oral consent, but what they really wanted Taiwan to talk about was the "one China" principle. So what was it that the two sides orally agreed to express? As far as the other side is concerned, it was to "orally agree that each side would respectively express 'one China'," and not respective interpretations of the meaning of "one China." Herein lies the difference. It is "respective interpretations of the 'one China' principle," not "respective interpretations of the meaning of 'one China'." However we always stated the meaning of "one China" to them (the Mainland). This is the meaning we wanted to express (the meaning approved by the National Unification Council on August 1). PRC still did not intend to explicitly express this meaning. Then what is the consensus? Can you call it a consensus if each makes claims irrelevant to the other? Then I don't know what consensus really means. So these 35 characters are definitely not the "original flavor." They were cobbled together and restructured while most of the context omitted.

        This is why some media criticized the case of 92 consensus as "glued meat." Everyone knows what is "glued meat." KMT remove the context and then repackage the consensus. One is utterly unable to find the "original flavor" between the 35 words. Let us look at the letter correspondence. What did we say in our reply letter? Our reply letter was very clear: we want "one China" and we want to express the meaning of "one China." That statement was made on the August 1, and the reply was based on the meaning approved by the National Unification Council on August 1. It was very clear. So in our reply letter we insisted on expressing this.

        I would like to further clarify. PRC agreed to allow Taiwan to orally express the "one China principle." We wanted to orally express the meaning of "one China." Moreover, we prepared the denifition, which was the meaning of "one China" from August 1. However, there was no correspondence that can confirm the requests of each sides. So how can it be said that these 35 characters are the "original flavor" of the "1992 Consensus"?

        With this additional clarification, everyone should has understood the truth. KMT started to make false accusations based on this erroneous fact. So we responded in a press release. I won't go into further details here because my purpose is to clarify a fact.

        Then you will ask me: Why were talks can be held in Singapore in 1993? Everyone has been saying that the Koo-Wang Talks in Singapore in 1993 and the four agreements were only made possible by a consensus that was reached in Hong Kong in 1992. However, I have often said this is faulty logic. "When it rains, the ground gets wet." Can you thus deduce that "The ground is wet so it must be raining"?

        So why were the talks can be held in Singapore in 1993? I brought this handout today to decipher this for you all. In 2008, Huang Kun-huei, who was minister of the MAC during the Hong Kong talks in 1992, presented at a seminar an article entitled the "Breakdown of the 1992 Hong Kong Talks." At that time, he was the actual minister of the MAC, and Ma Ying-jeou was only a deputy minister of the MAC. Why did a deputy minister deny the statements from his supervisor? I find it quite absurd.

        Read this article and you will find it is clear from beginning to end. The whole strategy is unequivocal and clear. The original negotiator, Shi Hwei-yow, also denied there was such a thing (the 1992 Consensus). So why did the deputy minister Ma insisted there was (a 1992 Consensus)? More importantly, President Lee Teng-hui also stated, "There was no 1992 Consensus." Why do the real principals say the consensus is non existence, while the subordinates allege there was a consensus? KMT then bring out a document and can't back it up. How can KMT convince others to believe?

        I often say that the government is continuous. If you sign an agreement with others in paper, the government shall recognize it. For example, the 23 cross-Strait agreements, the transportation agreement or Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement signed during Ma administration are all accepted and executed by incumbent government. If an agreement had been signed at the Hong Kong talks in 1992, the government would also recognize it. But there was none. KMT tried to explain this in a variety of ways, but the people who were the actual chief negotiators and principals say there wasn't. Why do you insist on saying there was and then accused current government of not accepting it?

        I brought this handout ( "Breakdown of the 1992 Hong Kong Talks" ) to unravel this matter with you all. Item 2 on the second from last page reads: Couldn't the two sides restart negotiations without a "1992 Consensus"? "Firstly, although the talks in Hong Kong broke down, the two sides still made major breakthroughs. This proves that the repeated claims by the Ma administration that negotiations could not be restarted without Taiwan accepting the so-called '1992 Consensus' and 'one-China principle' are totally unfounded. Although the Hong Kong talks broke down, the two sides made their biggest breakthrough the following year. Secondly, the meeting of the Koo-Wang Talks in Singapore 1993 was unrelated to the talks in Hong Kong. It was achieved by secret envoys shuttling back-and-forth between the two sides in June 1992. This means that long before the Hong Kong talks, high-level leaders of the two sides had privately discussed and decided to hold the Koo-Wang meeting the next year. It had nothing to do with the success or failure of the talks in Hong Kong."

        Did you read that? When Huang Kun-huei issued that paper at the seminar, I looked at it and thought, "Wow," that actually happened. This event (the Koo-Wang meeting in 1993) was in fact brought about by emmissaries. I'm an academic, so I started to track this so-called "emissary affair." A succession of people further disclosed information and later, everyone saw this from Cheng Shu-min. More importantly, I finally visited a person involved in this secret envoy affair. I saw a related photo with our representative. I also saw the PRC's then-president Yang Shangkun and Ye Xuanning (Do you know him? He was the son of Ye Jianying and a member of the Central Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs during Deng Xiaoping's era. He passed away two years ago after suffering from an injured arm for a long time.)

        As I stated before, if you want vagueness, then so be it. We shall still respect those historical facts. If you want me to clarify on this matter today, then I will disclose my investigation and research to the public. That is why I said this week that I trust that no one on either side of the Taiwan Strait knows more about the Hong Kong meeting in 1992 than I do. I even followed up on these statements published by Huang Kun-huei in his thesis and located one of the involved parties. He showed me the photo. I won't talk any more about the rest. Then the principal, the MAC Minister (Huang Kun-huei), publicly announced an article stating that the 1993 talks in Singapore were facilitated by emissaries. I provide these information for your reference.