During a recent interview on the issue of the so-called “1992 consensus,” former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said that he in 1992 personally oversaw cross-strait negotiations, and that in late October of that year, the Taiwanese and Chinese governments agreed to support and uphold the “one China” principle, although each side had different interpretations of what “one China” means.
He went on to say that on Nov. 3, 1992, the Taiwanese side submitted a letter to the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), inquiring whether verbal expressions of both sides’ interpretations of “one China” would solve the issue.
Ma said that Taipei on Nov. 16, 1992, received a response that said: “We respect and accept your suggestion.”
Therefore there was indeed a “consensus,” Ma said.
Was this really how it happened?
First, Ma at the time was vice chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and would not have been in charge of the Hong Kong talks.
Second, China did not accept the Taiwanese side’s suggestion.
Three decades later, is Ma still attempting to rewrite history?
The 1992 Hong Kong talks, held from Oct. 8 to Nov. 1, were a working-level consultation to open negotiations between China and Taiwan. Right at the start, the Chinese side suggested that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should be defined as “one China” and that cross-strait affairs were consequently Chinese affairs.
This led to a stalemate between the two sides.
On the fourth day of the talks, the Chinese side abandoned the format, leaving Taiwan’s representatives behind.
On Nov. 3, China stated its position through a news release published by Xinhua news agency, saying: “The head of [ARATS] today announced that there has been significant progress in the working-level consultations on the issue of the documentation for the talks, after ARATS accepts [Taiwan’s] Straits Exchange Foundation’s [SEF] suggestion of establishing the ‘one China’ principle verbally, and is willing to discuss the substantive content separately.”
The SEF responded in another news release, saying: “According to a press release by the head of ARATS published through Xinhua today [Nov. 3], the Chinese communists are willing to ‘respect and accept’ [the SEF’s] recent suggestion to agree for the ‘one China’ principle to be expressed verbally, but the agency also said that the substantive content verbally expressed will be discussed separately.”
As the Chinese side had not responded by Nov. 15, the Hong Kong talks collapsed.
On that day, Ma called a news conference and his agency issued a news release titled “MAC regards the Hong Kong talks to have fallen at last hurdle.”
He also told reporters that “the 1992 Hong Kong talks have collapsed without reaching consensus.”
Today, Ma is saying that a “consensus” was reached, which is a slap in the face of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), who during a US trip earlier this month said that the “1992 consensus” was “a consensus without a consensus.”
Ma has either developed amnesia, is being disingenuous or is sending a message to the Chinese Communist Party.
Former MAC chairman Su Chi (蘇起) has admitted to in 2000 inventing the term “1992 consensus.”
Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), former MAC chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝), former SEF chairman Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) and former SEF deputy secretary-general Chen Rong-jye (陳榮傑) have all said that there was never a “consensus.”
Lee has even dismissed Ma’s attempts to claim that the “consensus” ever existed, saying: “Silly boy, if you want to rewrite history, it is not that simple.”
Thirty years later, Ma is no longer a boy, but he is just as silly.
Chou Ni-an, a former legislator, is head of the Taiwan Solidarity Union’s department of organization.
Translated by Paul Cooper
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