Political talks get closer after forum

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2012, 12:00am


Cross-strait talks are set to approach the so-called 'deep water zone' after complex political issues were raised for discussion for the first time in a recent partisan meeting in Harbin, capital of northeastern Heilongjiang province.

Drawing concerns was the 'mainland and Taiwan belong to the same country' proposal raised by Jia Qinglin , chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, during their meeting held jointly by the Communist Party and Taiwan's Kuomintang.

Analysts said Jia's proposal and the inclusion of other political issues, including cross-strait peace, at the Eighth Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum signalled the mainland's strong desire to push through political dialogue in formal talks with Taiwan.

They said Jia's proposal also represented the mainland's hopes of further consolidating the fact that both Taiwan and the mainland were the same country - an expression derived from 'Taiwan and the mainland belong to one China' in describing cross-strait relations.

During the opening of the two-day meeting on Saturday, Jia said the core of the 'one China' framework was that 'both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one country' and that the 'cross-strait relationship is not state-to-state ties'.

In the closing session on Sunday, participants from both sides debated at length whether they should hold political talks. Mainland academics even took turns to criticise the 'no unification, no independence and no use of force' principle that forms the core of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's cross-strait policy.

As the content of these KMT-Communist Party 'partisan' meetings have long been seen as a pointer for cross-strait talks between the semi-official bodies of both sides - Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait - Jia's remarks triggered grave concerns in Taiwan.

The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party yesterday accused the government of mainland-friendly Ma of selling out the island to Beijing. 'Not only that [KMT honorary chairman] Wu Poh-hsiung failed to reject such a proposal, but Ma Ying-jeou, being both the president and the chairman of the KMT, also failed to reject this immediately,' said DPP legislator Chen Ting-fei. 'This is tantamount to Ma collaborating with the Communist Party in staging a show to sell out Taiwan,' she said.

Huang Kun-huei, chairman of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, said yesterday that he would sue Ma for 'treason.' Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), which charts cross-strait policy, also said 'the Republic of China [Taiwan's official title] is a sovereign country and its cross-strait policy is no unification, no independence and no use of force, which is based on the ROC's constitution.'

'The two sides should set aside disputes and engage in pragmatic talks to address issues related to the rights of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,' said council spokesman Jonathan Liu.

Joseph Wu, former MAC chairman in a DPP administration, yesterday said Jia's remarks 'indicates that, step-by-step, China is pushing through its one-China framework by eliminating the 'state-to-state' relationship between the two sides in order to achieve cross-strait unification'.

Lin Chong-pin, professor of the Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies at Tamkang University in Taipei, said Jia's proposal would be the 'prelude of the cross-strait policy by Xi Jinping , who would push cross-strait ties to go further even further after he becomes the next leader of the mainland'.

Taiwanese news media also said that in terms of future talks, it was inevitable that the two sides would come to the 'deep water zone', meaning harder and more thorny issues, including political ones, would come up as reflected by the political issues raised in the KMT-Communist Party forum.