In the October 17 press conference, President Ma Ying-jeou announced that his administration is preparing to initiate a peace accord with mainland China under three preconditions – necessity of the nation, public opinion support and under the supervision of the national Legislature. He stressed that such a peace agreement would not take place without the passing of a referendum and is not set to any timeline. If a referendum did not pass, then the peace pact would not be signed.
After being questioned by Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and its presidential nominee, President Ma assured the nation that the initiation of such a peace agreement is only possible with the consensus of the people and after the accumulation of enough confidence between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Furthermore, the content of the pact must come under the constitutional framework of the Republic of China on Taiwan, and maintain the current status of “no unification, no independence and no war.”
In 2003, former President Chen Shui-bian talked about the necessity of establishing a “peace and stability framework agreement for cross-strait interaction,” and proposed the “one principle, four issues” agreement, in which the principle is peace, while the four issues are the establishment of a negotiation mechanism, exchanges based on equality and reciprocity, establishment of a political relationship, and prevention of military conflict. When Chen brought up the idea of a peace accord, Tsai was serving as his minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, the main architect of the proposal, President Ma stressed in the press conference.
According to the referendum law, a required minimum of 50 percent national registered voter turnout is needed and another 50 percent of valid votes cast are required to pass a referendum. Since its passing in 2004, voters have gone to the polls three times in six referendums. All have failed to pass due to insufficient voter turnout.
With the forthcoming presidential election scheduled for January 14, 2012, King Pu-tsung, President Ma’s top aide, told Commonwealth magazine that the president is especially good at “promoting cross strait relations and in overcoming the economic crisis.” Internationally, President Ma’s strengths rest on his stable and reliable character.
With regards to President Ma’s handling of controversial issues, Chen Shang-chih, a professor at National Chung Cheng University, said, the accord is design “to pave the way for Ma’s historical legacy.” Since direct presidential elections began in Taiwan in 1996, former President Lee Teng-hui has been credited with ushering in the democratization of Taiwan, and former President Chen heralded for the peaceful transition of one political party to another. Prof. Chen believes that President Ma’s legacy will be decided on “how far the cross strait relationship advances.”
As for the question of whether President Ma would visit China after his second term, King said that President Ma has publicly stated that he will visit any country, including mainland China, in the capacity of president of the Republic of China on Taiwan. However, when asked, “Do you think Beijing would agree with his title?” King replied, “I don’t think so.”