Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-01-29 04:13 PM
Wu admitted that it is impossible to say for sure whether a meeting between Wang and Zhang might touch on the possibility of such a "Ma-Xi" meeting, but added that it is only logical that they could discuss the matter. He further noted that the DPP and the government of Taiwan should do everything they can to normalize relations across the strait even as they pay close attention to possible pitfalls in such a process. He said that officials act on behalf of the states they represent and should be ready at all times to vigorously defend the rights of the people.
Wu had sharp criticism for the Chinese side amid rumors that China had demanded that no political issues would be discussed in the Wang-Zhang talks. He noted that China is notorious for taking unilateral steps in cross-strait exchanges, citing an incident following the December 2013 “Forum on the Cross-strait Media Outlook" when China released a number of conclusions regarding the content of the talks without consulting Taiwan beforehand. He warned Wang to be on guard to avoid being similarly sandbagged.
Wu said several times that the DPP does not object to talks between the two sides as long as they are not based on the idea of “One China, Two Interpretations.” He said the party is anxious to remove obstacles that make positive interaction difficult and does not oppose normalization of cross-strait relations; At the same time, however, Wang should understand three principles to be observed in talking with Zhang: first, Taiwan's sovereignty must be recognized; second, the talks should be open and any agreements will be subject to legislative review; and third, Wang must emphasize that Taiwan is a sovereign and independent country that is not affiliated with the People's Republic of China.
The ‘One China” principle could prove to be a stubborn hurdle to any Ma-Xi meeting. During an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in October last year Xi said that China is willing to hold talks with Taiwan on an equal basis under the “One China” principle, adding that problems caused by the 65-year-long standoff between the two sides should not be handed down to future generations to resolve.
Staging the meeting in Nanjing is particularly significant as the city was China’s capital until 1949 when Chiang Kai-shek and the KMT crossed the Taiwan Strait to establish what is now widely referred to as the Republic of China on Taiwan.
Joseph Wu outlined a number of issues which should be discussed as well as those which should be avoided. Topics that should be on the table include: 1, Uphold human rights and freedoms; 2, Restart negotiations on the Agreement on Trade in Services; 3, Discuss how to implement food safety protocols; 4, Emphasize cross-strait cooperation in combating crime; and 5, Implementing an investor protection agreement.
Wu added that topics considered ‘off the table’ would include the One-China principle, the termination of hostilities, a peace agreement, military mutual trust mechanisms and a unified political structure.
Wu stressed that discussions of political issues involved in the Wang-Zhang talks should be in accordance with commitments made during the election campaign of President Ma and that anything else should first be subjected to a referendum before bringing it up in any meeting between the two sides.
One point which will be settled early in the meeting is how Zhang will address Wang. If Zhang calls him minister, as Wang has said he “expects” him to do, it would establish a platform for future talks as discussions between two governments of equal standing. Such a move would be likely to overshadow any agreements that might be reached during the initial meeting between the two sides.
Media reports said Zhang addressed Wang by his official title in October when the two spoke briefly in a hotel lobby at the APEC summit.
President Ma, speaking while overseas on an official visit to Honduras, said the Wang-Zhang meeting is an “inevitable” step in cross-strait relations. This follows remarks he made in his New Year’s address January 1 that the government needs to end its political stalemate with China to spur economic growth.
Wang is scheduled to visit the mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen – the founding father of the ROC – while in Nanjing, and will also deliver a speech at Nanjing University.