Amid Backlash, Chiang Affirms Contributions of 1992 Consensus

News Compiled and Reported by Taiwan Weekly

(Reported by the Central News Agency and United Daily News)


The reform committee of the Kuomintang (KMT) proposed a new cross-strait policy discourse, triggering accusations that the party leadership is downplaying the 1992 Consensus, which in turn have triggered dissatisfaction among senior party figures. Chairman Johnny Chiang has endeavored to put out this fire. In a media interview, he said that the KMT’s new cross-strait policy positively affirms the role and contributions of the 1992 Consensus, and that the 1992 Consensus should be defined not only as a discussion but something put into practice.  


The cross-strait team of the KMT’s reform committee announced its preliminary conclusion on June 19 and described the 1992 Consensus in a historical context. The KMT’s proposed cross-strait policy includes four pillars: (1) adherence to the sovereignty of the Republic of China (2) protection of freedom, democracy, and human rights, (3) maintenance of Taiwan’s security and priority, and (4) creation of a  win-win situation and shared prosperity.


However, this proposal caused dissatisfaction among senior party figures. Former President Ma Ying-jeou and former Vice President Wu Den-yi declined to attend the June 23 dinner hosted by Chairman Chiang . Former Chairmen Lien Chan and Wu Po-hsiung issued rare statements supporting the 1992 Consensus. Former Chairman Hung Hsiu-chu called upon Chiang not to deviate from the KMT’s core values.


In an exclusive interview with "The China Post" on the 23rd, Chiang stated that the controversy around the 1992 Consensus in recent months is due to the oversimplification of the language used to discuss the matter: to take or not to take, to keep or to abandon.


He further stated that the KMT’s reform committee positively affirms the role and contributions of the 1992 Consensus. Especially during the past 8 years of President Ma’s administration, the 1992 Consensus was not only a discourse but also a practice. We saw this through exchanges between the two sides and even government-to-government consultations.


Chiang points out that the 1992 Consensus was somewhat stigmatized and distorted by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). In Beijing, the interpretation of the 1992 Consensus has also deviated from its original definition to some extent. It seems that excessive interpretation of this discourse has instead led to more misunderstandings amongst the people of Taiwan. 


He asserts that it is necessary to bring the 1992 Consensus back to its original concept and meaning, that is to say identifying the most important tenet behind the 1992 Consensus is the Constitution of the Republic of China. "When you (Beijing) do not look squarely at the Republic of China, the 92 Consensus cannot exist."


Chiang emphasized that it is important to face the fact that the 1992 Consensus was stigmatized, and that it must also be returned to its original intent. The KMT can strengthen the discussion in this regard, pushing for a shared understanding of the connotations and definition of the 1992 Consensus. 


He said that in the past, the other side was operating under a negative or unwilling situation with regards to the issue of one China with different interpretations. If “different interpretation” cannot be emphasized, then of course it is not the original and complete meaning of the 1992 Consensus.


Chiang also points out that the most important content of the 1992 Consensus is "to seek common ground while preserving differences and to put aside disputes." However, how the spirit of these principles can be continued is what the KMT has to ponder upon when discussing the cross-strait discourse and its related policies. 


The Youth Group of the KMT held a press conference on June 25 to defend the proposed cross-strait policy discourse. The panelists emphasized that they did not wish to abandon the spirit of the 1992 Consensus, but because it has been stigmatized, it is no longer accepted by younger generations.


The youth team member and Taiwan University student Hsu Yu-chien said that recent changes in political circumstances have stigmatized the 1992 Consensus and consequently alienated young people from the KMT. KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang also mentioned in the reform committee that he clearly felt that there are gaps between the KMT’s discussion and the younger generation. Elders within the KMT have feelings for the 1992 Consensus, but the 1992 Consensus is no longer able to serve as the cornerstone of cross-strait exchanges. The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that the space for “different interpretations” has been eroded by Beijing. The KMT must now think hard about whether it shall continue to embrace the existing discourse or lose the confidence of another one or two generations of the youth by not considering a new discourse.  


Taipei City Councilor Hsu Chiao-hsin said that the new discourse on cross-strait relations only emphasizes that there will be no 1992 Consensus without the R.O.C., which should be acceptable to KMT supporters. Young KMT members did not abandon the 1992 Consensus but would like to meet and overcome the obstacles and challenges encountered today by the 1992 Consensus.


Hsu said that when mainland China drew the 1992 Consensus and “One Country, Two Systems” closer, it allowed the DPP to link the two together. What can the KMT do? Hsu asked that as the mainland changes the contents of the 1992 Consensus unilaterally, how can the KMT ask them to return to the right path that both sides set off in 1992? This is still an obstacle faced by the KMT. The KMT should let go of its sensitivity and hesitation and find a reasonable solution. Only expressing dissatisfaction cannot solve the problem.


Chiang stated that current discussions of cross-strait policy and the 1992 Consensus provide a basis for communication, dialogue, and consultation. He will go to the grassroots level in the next two months and listen to the opinions of KMT representatives and members and leave the final decision to the KMT’s National Congress.



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