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Ball in Taiwan's court if ties to move forward: China

ROC Central News Agency

2018/06/27 17:34:46

Beijing, June 27 (CNA) If relations between China and Taiwan are to move forward, "the ball is now in Taiwan's court," the spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said Wednesday.

Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) was commenting on an overture from Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on an equal footing and without any preconditions.

In an exclusive interview with AFP Monday, Tsai said there is still a chance for the two sides to sit down and talk, despite escalating tension across the Taiwan Strait.

Ma said that China's stance on the "1992 consensus" and its opposition to Taiwan independence remain firm and consistent.

Ma also commented on the appointment of former Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Yao Jen-to (姚人多) as vice chairman and spokesman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), the semi- official organization set up by Taiwan to deal with day-to-day affairs between the two sides of the strait.

Yao's appointment to that "working level" position is seen by Beijing as an attempt to get in closer contact with China now that official channels of communication have been cut since Tsai's inauguration in May 2016.

In Taiwan, Ma said, Yao is known as a most competent communicator. "If so, he is supposed to know the password for resuming communication between the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the SEF."

ARATS is the SEF's counterpart in China.

Yao declined to respond to a CNA request to comment on Ma's remarks about him because he will not assume the SEF post until July 9.

ARATS and the SEF were set up in the early 1990s by China and Taiwan, respectively, as semi-official organizations dealing with day-to-day problems arising from increasing economic, social, cultural and tourism exchanges across the strait.

Ma was referring to talks between Beijing and Taipei officials in November 1992 and ensuing correspondence between ARATS and the SEF in which both sides agreed to the broad idea of "one China."

Ma said the "1992 consensus" defines the fundamental nature of cross-strait relations and ensures their peaceful development.

During the eight years when the Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) was president, China deliberately allowed each side of the strait to interpret what that "one China" means, an ambiguity and flexibility that had allowed exchanges to flourish under a string of agreements signed by the two sides, including the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.

At that time, Taiwan insisted that its "one China" means the Republic of China, the official title of Taiwan since 1945 -- a practice to which China turned a blind eye in order to pursue "practical" development of its ties with Taiwan.

Beijing has repeatedly said that the "1992 consensus" is the political foundation on which all cross-strait exchanges must be conducted.

China has cut all official communications with Taiwan on the grounds that Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party administration does not recognize the "1992 consensus," although it recognizes the "historical facts of 1992."

(By Chou Hui-ying and S.C. Chang)

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