Xi Jinping

Harmony between Beijing, Taiwan to continue, analysts say

Show of commitment by Taipei's ruling KMT to the 'one China framework' reassures Xi Jinping of Ma Ying-jeou's peaceful stance, analysts say

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 June, 2013, 6:51am


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Beijing will maintain its policy of peaceful interactions with Taipei, following a high-level meeting between leaders of the Communist Party and Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang, analysts say.

Thursday's meeting between party general secretary Xi Jinping and KMT honorary chairman Wu Poh-hsiung in Beijing saw the two sides reach a major consensus on the "one China framework" and other issues.

Analysts and officials said the outcome would ensure peaceful cross-strait ties continued.

Concerns have arisen on the mainland that Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, who doubles as KMT chairman, has bowed to pressure from the pro-independence camp and might back off from the present open approach.

Relations between Taipei and the mainland had been tense since the end of their civil war in 1949, but have improved markedly since Ma took office in 2008 and adopted an engagement policy towards the mainland - as evidenced in the eight rounds of cross-strait talks and 18 non-political co-operation agreements that have been signed during his term.

In the latest development, Ma sent Wu to Beijing for the high-level talks with Xi, in their first meeting since Xi became president in March.

"After Thursday's meeting, Xi should have a better understanding of Ma's positions, preventing him from miscalculating policies towards Taiwan," said political analyst George Tsai Wei, a professor at Chinese Culture University in Taipei.

Wu clarified Ma's positions and spelled out what Ma had in mind in its dealings with Beijing after Xi succeeded Hu Jintao as Chinese leader.

Tsai said: "The meeting was significant as it came right after Xi held talks with US President Barack Obama, meaning Xi considers cross-strait relations rather important and communication with the KMT highly necessary."

Cross-strait talks are usually held directly between the KMT and Communist Party or via Taipei's Straits Exchange Foundation and its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait - front bodies set up by their respective governments in the early 1990s in the absence of formal ties.

During the meeting, Wu underscored the KMT leadership's adherence to the 1992 consensus on one China - its stance against independence for Taiwan and Ma's view of cross-strait relations as not being "state-to-state", but that within the "one-China framework".

The 1992 consensus refers to a tacit Beijing-Taipei agreement that there is only one China, but each can have its own interpretation of what "China" stands for.

Beijing has repeatedly urged Taiwan to observe the "one China" principle if it wants to improve ties. In recent years, it has gone a step further by emphasising the importance of the "one China framework", which it has asked Taiwan to embrace.

Analysts and local media said it was the first time the KMT government officially echoed Beijing's "one China framework" call, though senior KMT figures including former chairman Lien Chan had previously used the term in summing up cross-strait relations.

"This time, the Ma government has adjusted some of its rhetoric, though in principle there isn't any big change," said Lin Chong-pin, former vice-chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council who is now a professor at Tamkang University in Taipei.

But Lin also said such rhetoric "is a positive response to what the mainland has appealed in recent years", which would allow "continuously smooth operation of the KMT-Communist Party" communication channel.

Other than the positive response, analysts noted that Xi and Wu had said nothing new.

Xi called on both sides to enhance mutual trust, engage in favourable interactions, seek common ground and shelve differences in order to achieve renaissance of the Chinese nation.

Wu, meanwhile, brought up Ma's proposal for Beijing not to snub Taiwan internationally, but to allow it to have "meaningful participation in international activities".

After the meeting, Wu told reporters he had reached consensus with Xi on several matters that showed Ma was "not at a standstill in terms of handling cross-strait issues".

The KMT acknowledgement of the "one China framework" triggered a strong protest by Taiwan's pro-independence camp.

The Democratic Progressive Party slammed the KMT for "kowtowing to China" and risking the island's sovereignty.

Wang Yu-chi, minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, said, however, that under Taiwan's constitution, one China meant "the Republic of China", the official title of the island.