CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS

Academics may discuss cross-strait peace deal

Beijing gives positive response to proposal by Lien Chan for 'building-block approach' to discussing formal end of civil war hostility

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 September, 2012, 3:30am
 

Beijing has given a positive response to a proposal by the honorary chairman of Taiwan's Kuomintang, Lien Chan, that progress towards a cross-strait peace treaty could start with academic discussion of the issue.

"We feel that the proposal by Mr Lien is rather positive," Fan Liqing, a spokeswoman for the mainland State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, told a news conference in Beijing yesterday.

She said it had long been the mainland's stand that Beijing and Taipei should formally end the state of hostility left over from the civil war and reach a cross-strait peace treaty, adding that such a development would be in the overall interests of the Chinese people and was a common aspiration on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

"This certainly is the outlook of the future development of cross-strait relations," Xinhua quoted Fan as saying.

Her comment came after Lien proposed a "building-block approach" for the two sides in dealing with the politically sensitive peace treaty issue. Lien said the two sides could begin with talks on "peripheral issues" as a way of building up "mutual political trust". To that end, Lien said, academics and think tanks from the two sides could hold regular peace forums to facilitating brainstorming.

Lien, a former Taiwanese vice-president, made the proposal during a meeting with President Hu Jintao on Friday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum summit in Vladivostok, Russia. Lien represented Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou at the summit.

Ma has proposed the signing of a peace pact between the two sides since he became the island's president in 2008 and adopted a policy of engaging the mainland. Beijing has asked Taipei to hold peace talks, but pro-independence groups in Taiwan, including the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, have accused Ma of attempting to sell Taiwan out to the mainland, with a peace pact eventually leading to cross-strait unification and tiny Taiwan being swallowed up by the mainland giant.

Such criticism saw Ma tone down his peace pact proposal, saying that the agreement of the Taiwanese public and legislature would be needed before any such treaty was sealed.

Analysts said the "building-block approach" should be a safe way to explore the tricky peace treaty issue.

"The two sides have signed 18 agreements so far for economic and non-political co-operation, and inevitably they will have to touch on other more thorny issues," said Professor Chao Chun-shan, at the Graduate Institute of China Studies at Tamkang University in Taipei.

If Ma went straight to discussing a peace treaty with the mainland, it would create a great deal of trouble for him and might affect the prospects for such talks, Chao said, adding that it would be better for the two sides to slowly accumulate mutual trust before holding talks on the issue.

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