Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou held a press conference on the morning of October 20 at the Presidential Office to reiterate that the government has no timeline for entering into a cross-strait peace agreement, and would only do so where the following three preconditions were met: 1) such an agreement would have to be necessary to the ROC; 2) it would have to be supported by the public; and 3) the entire process would have to be subject to oversight by the national legislature. The president further explained that “supported by the public” means support as indicated in public opinion polls, a resolution of the national legislature, or a plebiscite. Should a plebiscite fail to pass, a peace agreement would not be sought.
On March 17, at the last in the series of press conferences I held to discuss the “Golden Decade, National Visions” plan, I focused on the topics of “cross-strait peace” and “friendly relations with the international community.” Let me first address “cross-strait peace.” Regarding this topic, we put forward a very important concept: “Based on a comprehensive evaluation of conditions at home and abroad, we will consider working for the signing of a cross-strait peace agreement in order to safeguard a lasting peace across the Taiwan Strait. However, before seeking a cross-strait peace agreement, there would have to be strong social consensus in support of it, and there would also have to be a sufficient degree of mutual trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Moreover, any agreement would have to be necessary to the ROC, it would have to be supported by the public, and the entire process would have to be subject to oversight by the national legislature.”
Since we put forward this idea, the opposition parties have raised quite a few specious accusations and created confusion among the public. For that reason, I must provide another explanation of my administration’s approach to cross-strait peace so that discussions on this matter of public interest will remain properly focused.
I must stress at the outset that when we held a press conference on the “golden decade” at the end of September, I clearly explained that national security and social harmony constitute the foundation of everything the government does. That is why our vision for accomplishment of the “golden decade” is predicated upon the “four assurances,” which are: 1) to ensure that the sovereignty of the Republic of China remains independent and unimpaired; 2) to ensure the safety and prosperity of Taiwan; 3) to ensure ethnic harmony and cross-strait peace; and 4) to ensure a sustainable environment and a just society.
The first three assurances are directly related to the subject of today’s press conference. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen is of the opinion that signing a peace agreement would do harm to Taiwan’s sovereignty, but in the first of the “four assurances” we expressly declared our intention to “keep the sovereignty of the Republic of China independent and unimpaired,” so the situation foreseen by Chairwoman Tsai will not come about. Second, the “four assurances” will make it completely impossible for the four dangers mentioned by Chairwoman Tsai to ever materialize. In addition, Chairwoman Tsai said that once Taiwan and the mainland sign a peace agreement, it would change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. The actual facts, however, are quite to the contrary. We won’t push for the signing of a peace agreement unless three preconditions are met, which means that we intend to institutionalize the model for peaceful cross-strait interaction, and move forward slowly but steadily. The principles of addressing “easy issues before difficult ones,” “urgent matters before non-urgent ones,” and “economic matters before political ones” have not changed, and the principle of maintaining the status quo of “no unification, no independence, and no use of force” in cross-strait relations will not change. The point of signing a peace agreement, therefore, is to consolidate the “no unification, no independence, and no use of force” status quo. This status quo enjoys mainstream support in Taiwan. Numerous public opinion polls conducted by the Mainland Affairs Council have shown that over 80% of the general public is in favor of the “no unification, no independence, and no use of force” status quo.
The three important preconditions that must be met before the signing of any cross-strait peace agreement are the following: 1) it would have to be necessary to the ROC; 2) it would have to be supported by the public; and 3) the entire process would have to be subject to oversight by the national legislature. As for the manner in which public support is gauged and legislative oversight is exercised, we of course do not rule out the use of public opinion polls, a resolution of the legislature, or a plebiscite. All of these are ways of demonstrating the will of the people. And the news release we issued yesterday expressly states that before seeking a cross-strait peace agreement, we would first put the matter up for a plebiscite, and if the plebiscite didn’t pass, then we wouldn’t seek a cross-strait peace agreement. If any one of the three preconditions we set out were not met, we would not sign an agreement. Our position is thus both resolute and careful.
Nowhere in our plans for a “golden decade” do we say that we are absolutely going to sign an agreement within 10 years. We are simply stressing that within the coming 10 years there will be no way for us to avoid the issue of cross-strait peace. We must face it. We are calling on everyone to think seriously about this issue. So, we do not feel we have to enter into an agreement in any particular year. I’ve been very clear on this point in two different press conferences.
Regrettably, the DPP drew a comparison with the “Agreement of the Central People’s Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet.” This comparison is completely absurd. To liken Taiwan to Tibet is pure gibberish, because mainland China treated the agreement as something between the “central government” and “a local government,” and it used the word “liberation.” How is that comparable to a peace agreement between us and mainland China? I believe the DPP seriously diminishes Taiwan’s stature by speaking this way, and ignores the fact that the Republic of China is a nation that enjoys independent sovereignty. So I completely reject what Chairwoman Tsai said, and urge her not to speak any more in a manner that diminishes the stature of our nation.
The DPP has questioned the idea of our signing a peace agreement with mainland China, but Chairman Tsai seems to forget that in 2003, when she was serving as Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, the then President Chen Shui-bian spoke of the need for a “peace and stability framework agreement for cross-strait interaction,” and this agreement would have placed great stress on the principle of peace. President Chen called for establishment of a negotiation mechanism, exchanges based on equality and reciprocity, establishment of a political relationship, and prevention of military conflicts. Eight years ago, Chairwoman Tsai was promoting this very work, yet now, eight years later, she criticizes our viewpoint. She is flip-flopping on this issue.
There is one point that I must emphasize—in order to bring about a lasting peace between Taiwan and mainland China, we put forward the idea of entering into a cross-strait peace agreement once three preconditions were met. Our fundamental objective in doing so is to consolidate a lasting cross-strait peace. This point is very clear.
We’ve seen people with ulterior motives continually twist the truth. When they called for essentially the same thing eight years ago, it showed their “love for Taiwan.” Now that we’re calling for it, they turn around and engage in sophistry. This is not fair or reasonable. The “golden decade” concept is a 10-year framework. All sorts of things can happen in 10 years. We must prepare for the unexpected, and once it comes about, we will face the situation and deal with it in the best way for us. I will emphasize once more that what we’re talking about now is predicated on the meeting of certain preconditions, and until those preconditions are met, we will not proceed, because we adhere to the principle that “it would have to be necessary to the ROC, it would have to be supported by the public, and the entire process would have to be subject to oversight by the national legislature.” Maintaining the “no unification, no independence, and no use of force” status quo is the best way to safeguard cross-strait peace.