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N0.9 Where is the Cross-Straits Relations Heading for
--Peaceful Development or Confrontation?
2006-05-11 00:00

Below is an abstract of the speech made by Mr. Wang Zaixi, Vice Minister of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, on the meeting of the Delegation for Relations with the People's Republic of China of the European Parliament on 3rd May 2006.

Taiwan is an island off the southeastern coast of mainland China and has long been a part of Chinese territory. As early as in the 15th century, the government of China's Yuan Dynasty already set up an administrative institution in Taiwan, which exercised jurisdiction over this region. In 1885, the province of Taiwan was formally established. In 1895, Japan coerced the Government of Qing Dynasty with military force into signing unfair and unequal treaties, through which Japan occupied Taiwan and Penghu archipelago and subsequently subject Taiwan to its colonial rule for 50 years. Thanks to the victory of worldwide war against Fascism, on 25 October 1945, the Chinese Government formally recovered Taiwan and Penghu archipelago and resumed the exercise of sovereignty in accordance with Cairo Declaration released in December of 1943 and Potsdam Proclamation signed in July of 1945 between the governments of China, the US and the UK. Ever since then, Taiwan has been returned to China both de facto and legally.

The question of Taiwan after 1949 was a combined result of China's civil war and the intervention of foreign forces. In 1949, following its defeat in the civil war with the Communist Party of China (CPC), Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan. In June 1950, the Korean War broke out as China's military forces were about to liberate Taiwan. The US Government ordered the 7th fleet into the Taiwan Strait and subsequently signed Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan, putting the island under its military protection. Since then, Taiwan has been cut off from mainland China. The unfortunate situation we are having today where mainland and Taiwan are yet to be reunified is the legacy left over from that period of history.

After WWII, Germany was divided into East Germany and West Germany, two counties. It is worth pointing out that the relations between Taiwan and mainland China is fundamentally different from that between East Germany and West Germany. Though mainland and Taiwan haven't been reunified since 50-plus years ago, the fact that both mainland and Taiwan belong to one and same China remained unchanged. Historical facts and present realities show that, Taiwan has never been a sovereign country and it has always been a part of China. This is a basic fact widely acknowledged by the international community.

During the past 50-odd years, major and profound changes have taken place in the cross-Straits relations. Since 1979, the Chinese Government has adopted the basic principles of "peaceful reunification, one country two systems" to resolve Taiwan question. Starting from 1987, the two sides entered a new era of non-governmental exchanges, effectively ending the state of separation between mainland and Taiwan. In 1992, through authorizing NGOs to engage in dialogues, the two sides reached the 1992 consensus embodying the principle of one China principle and launched the famous talks between Mr. Wang Daohan from mainland and Gu Zhenfu from Taiwan in Singapore in 1993.

The development of cross-Straits exchanges and trade has been phenomenal during the past two decades. In 1987, only a few thousands Taiwan residents visited mainland. In 2005, 4.12 million visits were made from Taiwan to mainland. The trade volume between the two sides grew from less than 100 million dollars in 1987 to 91.2 billion dollars in 2005, a 900-fold increase. Mainland China has become the biggest market for Taiwan and taken 37.8% of the island's total export. In 2005, Taiwan ran 58 billion dollars of trade surplus with mainland. Over 68,000 Taiwan companies made investment in mainland. More than 10,000 students from Taiwan received or are receiving education on mainland. Right now there are over 5,200 Taiwan students being educated in mainland's schools. 500,000 men and women were coupled in the cross-straits marriages. About 700,000 people from Taiwan reside in mainland on a permanent basis, which represent 3% of the total population of the island. It is safe to conclude the cross-Straits exchanges in such fields as economy, culture, education, and science and technology has reached an unprecedented scale and are still moving ahead.

Now someone may raise the question, why, in recent 10 years, did the cross-Straits relations experienced so many twists and turns and even came to a very dangerous point, despite the close and warm exchanges between people from both sides.

The answer is that, during the past decades of more, the Taiwan independent forces have been developing and their secessionist activities have kept escalation, resulting the increasing tension across the Straits. Since 1994, Li Denghui, former leader of Taiwan authorities, dished out the theory of two states and pursued the secession of Taiwan from China, which forced the suspension of cross-Straits consultation and dialogue. Since Chen Shui-bien came into power in 2000, he went even further to push for Taiwan independence, further poisoning and worsening the cross-Straits relations. Owing to the provocative actions taken by secessionist forces in the island over the past 10 years or more, cross-Straits relations have experienced uneasiness, turmoil and confrontation.

The current cross-Straits relations are as complex as it is severe. On the one hand, people from across the Straits are looking forward to expanded exchanges, strengthened cooperation and peace, stability and common prosperity. On the other hand, Taiwan authorities have been restricting cross-Straits exchanges and causing tensions by taking provocative actions against mainland. So we have two paths or prospects lying ahead regarding the cross-Straits relations, one to peace development, the other to conflict and confrontation.

In face of such grave challenges, we have been trying our best to secure the first prospect, that is peaceful development of cross-Straits relation, and avoid the second one, which is conflict and confrontation. The Chinese Government is following a clear-cut policy on the question of Taiwan. In March 2005, President Hu Jintao put forward 4 observations in developing cross-Straits relations under the new circumstances. He stressed that we don't waver in our adherence to one China principle, we don't give up the efforts to realize peaceful reunification, we never change our policy of placing hope on Taiwan people and we never compromise in face of the secessionist activities. In his recent meeting with Mr. Lien Chan, the honorary president of Kuomintang, President Hu said, peaceful development should become the theme of the growth of cross-Straits relations and common goal of the compatriots from both sides.

Without any doubt, realizing national reunification is the common aspiration of the Chinese people. We will unswervingly implement the basic principles of peaceful reunification and one country, two systems and we are patient for and confident in the eventual national reunification. At current stage, our primary task is to oppose and check Taiwan Independence and work hard for peace and stability in cross-Straits relations.

China is a developing country pursuing a path to peaceful development. Over the past 20 years and more, China's growth should be attributed to the adoption of opening-up and reform policy and relatively peaceful and stable surrounding and international environment. Now the Chinese people are concentrating on economic development and striving for building a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way. Working towards peace, stability and growth in the cross-Straits relations, is in line with the calling of our times, common aspiration of the Chinese people from across the straits and the strategic direction taken by China towards peaceful development. To realize the peace and stability across the straits, we have worked and will continue to work hard in the following four aspects.

Firstly, unite compatriots from the both sides of the straits, resolutely oppose and check the secessionist activities towards Taiwan Independence, and maintain the status quo where both mainland and Taiwan belong to one and same China. Over the past 56 years, though the two sides of the Taiwan Straits have not been reunited yet, the fact that both mainland and Taiwan belong to one and same China remain unchanged. This is the status quo of cross-Straits relations. This is not only our position but also reflected in the existing laws and documents of Taiwan. Secessionist activities towards Taiwan independence, which undermine the status quo, are the root causes for the tension in the cross-Straits situation. According to a poll conducted in Taiwan, over 80% Taiwan people are against Independence. Two opposition parties, namely Kuomintang and People First party, also oppose Taiwan Independence. These two parties jointly have over half of the seats in the legislative Yuan, Taiwan's parliament and people with affiliations to these two parties are the top officials of 18 cities out of a total of 25 in Taiwan. A year ago, President Hu Jintao respectively invited leaders from Kuomintang and People First party to visit mainland and reached broad agreement with them on opposition to Taiwan Independence, expansion of cross-Straits exchanges and promoting peaceful and stable growth of cross-Straits relations. These two successful visits exerted major and positive influence on the relaxation and stabilization of cross-Straits relations, which were welcomed and supported by compatriots from both sides and were spoken highly of by the international community. Facts have shown compatriots from both sides of the Straits are against Taiwan Independence. Only by resolutely opposing and containing Taiwan Independence can the cross-Straits relations be stabilized and the peace and prosperity of Asia-Pacific region maintained.

Secondly, remove all kinds of barriers, strengthen cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation and realize common prosperity. Since 1979, we have been calling for and promoting direct mail, commercial and air links between the two sides. The vibrant growth of economic and trade relations across the straits have indicated that economic exchanges and cooperation based on mutual benefit is a viable avenue to peaceful and stable development of cross-Straits relations. However, due to the restrictions and blocking from the Taiwan authorities, direct marine and air links between the two sides are yet to be materialized. Various kinds of restrictions and constraints are placed on Taiwan enterprises that are investing in mainland China. Companies from mainland are prohibited to make investment in Taiwan and commodities and people from mainland are subject to many restrictions if they want to land on Taiwan. This reality has been seriously affecting the economic exchanges between the two sides and also impacting the normal operations of foreign companies, European companies included, which have investment in Taiwan. We believe that chartered passenger flights between the two sides should be made regular and chartered cargo flights more convenient. Breakthroughs in direct marine link need to be achieved. And we would like to see the realization of direct and two-way 3 links as soon as possible.

Thirdly, step up people-to-people exchanges across the straits, promote mutual understanding and advance common interests. People from Taiwan are our brothers and sisters and we have, over the years, formulated a series of regulations and policies to give them privileged preferential treatments and taken measures to address their concerns. From last April, we have made more than 30 policy measures to promote cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation and benefit Taiwan compatriots, including giving green light to chartered passenger flight between the two sides during the spring festival, Chinese New Year, exempt fruits, vegetables and fish from Taiwan of customs duties, provide more employment opportunities for people from Taiwan who want to work in mainland, allow residents from mainland to visit Taiwan, acknowledge academic degrees and diplomas of Taiwan, and expand cross-Straits cooperation in agriculture and health. Compatriots from mainland picked up a pair of pandas symbolizing peace, solidarity and friendship to present to compatriots from Taiwan. Despite repeated obstructions of Taiwan authorities, we have demonstrated with concrete moves our good will and sincerity in advancing cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation, accommodating the interests of Taiwan compatriots and promoting the peaceful and stable development of relations between the two sides. We will spare no efforts in doing everything that are conducive to cross-Straits exchanges and cooperation, interests of compatriots on both sides of the straits and peace and stability of the region.

Fourthly, conduct equal consultation, promote dialogue and communication and resolve problems in practical terms. We have always maintained that, the two sides should engage in dialogue and negotiation with vision and constructive attitude. In recent years, when we had exchanges and dialogues with Taiwan opposition parties and people from various circles in Taiwan, we repeatedly called for Taiwan authorities to resume consultations with us in the basis of 1992 consensus. We have made our position clear on a number of occasions that, regardless who they are, what party they are affiliated with, and no matter what they said or did in the past, as long as they recognize the 1992 consensus which reflects one China principle, we will be willing to talk to them and all kinds of issues could be brought to the table. However, unfortunately, there is no sincerity on the part of Taiwan authorities. They reject the 1992 consensus and insist that cross-Strait dialogue is a dialogue between two countries and this position inhibits the resumption of cross-Straits dialogue. Some members of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), the ruling party, voiced hopes to visit mainland or take part in meetings but they were stopped by Taiwan authorities from doing so. It is apparent that Chen Shui-bien, the leader of Taiwan authorities has no intention to engage mainland in dialogue. Despite that, we are still working for the resumption of dialogue and negotiations based on the 1992 consensus. We believe, consultation on equal footing is an evitable choice if peaceful and stable development of cross-Straits relations is to be achieved. New breakthroughs will be made as soon as the dialogue is launched between the two sides.

Last year, we have taken the initiative and adopted a number of measures to stabilize and improve cross-Straits relations, which had positive influence over the development of situation. The cross-Straits situation is generally moving towards relaxation and the momentum is growing towards peace and stability in the relations between the two sides. The developments are encouraging. However, though we begin to see the ray of peaceful development, the clouds of confrontation are yet to be removed.

At present, the pressing danger is that Taiwan authorities is attempting to permanently split Taiwan from China in the future years through so-called constitutional reengineering or constitutional revision.

Since the beginning of this year, there have been dangerous signals that Chen Shui-bien is stepping up efforts towards de jure Taiwan independence. He flagrantly claimed that Taiwan is a sovereign country covering an area of 36,000 sq km. the sovereignty of Taiwan belongs to 23 million Taiwan people and doesn't belong to the People's Republic of China. He also said that constitutional reengineering is the primary objective of Taiwan as a country and threatened to launch a referendum on new constitution in 2007. In February this year, he brazenly betrayed his promises made repeatedly and decided to cease the function of the "National Unification Council" (NUC) and the application of the "National unification Guidelines", taking a dangerous step further along the path to Taiwan Independence. Various signs have shown that secessionist elements in Taiwan are becoming increasingly adventurous and reckless in pushing for de jure Taiwan Independence through constitutional reengineering.

We have to stay highly vigilant against the severity and complexity of cross-Straits situation in future two years and against the international provocation of Taiwan secessionist elements. We don't want to see confrontation in the cross-Straits situation but we have to prepare ourselves for the worst scenario. It is the core interest of China to maintain peace and stability across Taiwan Straits and maintain the status quo where Taiwan and mainland are part of one and same China. We will never waver or compromise on major issues bearing on China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Last year marked the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and the EU. Thanks to the developments in the past 3 decades, now we are having comprehensive and multi-dimensional China-EU relations. As European integration is growing in depth and scope, the EU will play an even more important role in the realms of politics, economy and security both regionally and internationally. China has always appreciated and approached China-EU relations from a strategic and long-term perspective. And China is ready to further advance comprehensive and strategic partnership between the two sides on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. One China principle is an important component of the political foundation of China-EU relations. Opposing Taiwan independence and maintaining the peace and stability across the straits are in the interests of stability and prosperity of Asia-Pacific region and also in the interests of EU. I noticed that as Chen Shui-bien declared the cease of the function of NUC and application of National Unification Guidelines, the EU explicitly stated that this provocative act would not help the stability and peaceful development of cross-Straits situation and emphasized that EU would continue to uphold one China principle. I appreciated very much EU's position. And I believe, like us, the EU doesn't want to see cross-Straits crisis triggered by the reckless moves of Taiwan secessionist elements. And I am confident that the efforts of the Chinese Government and Chinese People for defending peace and stability across the straits and safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity will be appreciated and supported by the international community, including the European Union.

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