After the June 13 meeting with China’s new leader Xi Jinping, Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Honorary Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung said that he was confident Taiwan and China will establish official representative offices so as to facilitate the handling of bilateral affairs, according to the Central News Agency. The Wu-Xi meeting is the first high-level meeting between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since Xi became the general secretary of the party last November.
In the meeting with Xi, Wu sent regards to Xi on behalf of Taiwan’s president and KMT Chairman Ma Ying-jeou and has reiterated Taiwan’s stance on developing its relations with China. Apart from discussing mutual representative offices, Wu underscored the Taiwan government’s adherence to the “1992 consensus” and its stance against independence as the basis of political mutual trust.
The “1992 consensus” refers to the understanding reached by both sides’ representatives at the 1992 talks in Hong Kong discussing the definition of “one China.” The core content of the consensus is “one China, respective interpretations.” In simple terms, “one China” is recognized by Beijing to mean the People’s Republic of China (PRC), whereas Taiwan interprets it to mean the Republic of China (ROC). The two sides recognize each other as a political entity and are willing to shelve the sovereignty dispute in order to promote mutual exchanges.
Wu said that Taiwan hopes to take part in more international affairs and become further integrated in the regional economy. He made a case for greater and meaningful participation for Taiwan internationally. He also called for deeper economic cooperation and conveyed Taiwan’s hopes for admission into the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade body led by China, Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) member states, the Central News Agency reported.
Since President Ma took office in 2008, Taiwan and China have institutionalized cross-strait consultations, signed 18 agreements, and held eight meetings so as to lay a solid foundation for cross-strait exchanges. At present, the relations between the two sides are in the best shape in 60 years.
The United Evening News reported that during President Ma’s re-election campaign in October, 2011, he promised to promote the setting up of mutual offices. At the consultation meeting this January, the two sides decided to limit offices to public service level so as to circumvent the sovereignty dispute. Both sides have agreed that the major functions should be economic and trade, culture and education, and emergency relief. Taiwan expects to set up offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and to be able to engage in business of consular affairs such as issuing travel documents.
President Ma said that the opening of official offices is a major part of building healthy relations between Taiwan and the mainland, managing both sides’ yearly interaction of 8 million people and trade worth of US$160 billion. According to the Central News Agency, he noted that it is unimaginable that the two political entities have no official offices at this level to help facilitate this.
Discussions on the establishment of mutrual offices will be conducted through Taiwan’s semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). Established in 1991, it is responsible for cross-strait affairs, and its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).
At the same time of the Wu-Xi meeting, Taiwan’s Legislature was reviewing the regulations of cross-strait mutual establishment of offices.
The KMT stressed that cross-strait relations are a “special relationship of equal footing,” but not a state-to-state relationship, and the two sides set up offices, not consulates, while the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party argued that the cross-strait relationship is one between countries, and that cross-strait mutual establishment of offices must follow “the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations,” and shall be in accordance with the norms of international law and international practices, including national flags being hoisted at these offices and the national emblem revealed. The lawmakers of both parties insisted that offices of the two sides should have the function of judicial visitation rights. The two parties have not been able to reach a consensus on the contents of the regulations, reported the Central News Agency.