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SEF confirms existence of '1992 consensus'

ROC Central News Agency

2011/08/24 22:58:14

By Lee Hsin-Yin and James Lee

Taipei, Aug. 24 (CNA) The "1992 consensus" between Taiwan and China has actually existed even though the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has refused to accept it, Taiwan's intermediary body with China said Wednesday.

The Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) made the remarks in response to comments by DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen a day earlier that there has been no such a consensus.

The 1992 consensus refers to a tacit understanding reached between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait that there is only one China, with each side free to interpret what that means.

The SEF released several documents Wednesday in a bid to clarify questions raised by the DPP on the consensus.

One was a document exchanged between Taiwan and China in 1992 that contained the language of such an agreement, even though no one called it the "1992 consensus" until a much later date.

Citing the Nov. 16, 1992 document sent to the SEF by its Chinese counterpart, the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), the SEF said both sides essentially reached such a consensus despite not giving it a name at the time.

In the document, the ARATS said both sides have agreed to shelve their sovereignty dispute by recognizing that "there is only one China" with each side free to maintain their own interpretations of what that means.

"Whether you want to call the understanding the '1992 consensus' or by its 86-word text, the truth is that it exists, and has been confirmed by both Taiwanese and Chinese governments," said SEF Vice Chairman Kao Koong-lian.

According to Kao, no one called it the "1992 consensus" until 2008, when it appeared in internal SEF documents, as well as in Chinese media reports over conversations between Chinese and U.S. officials.

"The consensus has been regarded by all parts as the greatest common denominator," he said.

The latest brouhaha over Taiwan's relationship with China came in response to the China policy rollout of Tsai, who is also DPP charwoman.

The DPP candidate said "the '1992 consensus' does not exist," and both Taiwan and China should instead try to establish a "strategic mechanism" that would be in the interest of both sides.

DPP spokesman Chen Chi-mai backed up that position with some historical dates of his own.

He picked two other documents released by SEF Wednesday that represented an exchange between SEF and ARATS to confirm the "1992 consensus." But the documents were actually dated May 26, 2008, and Chen argued this consensus was reached while President Ma Ying-jeou was in power, not the DPP.

He cited a biography of Koo Chen-fu, the late SEF chairman, which said the "1992 consensus" was actually coined on April 28, 2000 by Su Chi, who headed the Mainland Affairs Council at that time.

"We can't tell the significance of the SEF's move in releasing such a document, and we're really confused," Chen said.

However, Chen reiterated that Tsai has made her stance "very clear."

"This argument over the 1992 consensus is of no help at all to improve the relations between the two sides (of strait)," he said.

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