President Ma Ying-jeou said April 29 that the talks 23 years ago in Singapore between Koo Chen-fu and Wang Daohan, respective heads of Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation and its mainland Chinese counterpart the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, ushered in a new era of Taipei-Beijing exchanges.
“The Koo-Wang talks created a paradigm of institutionalized cross-strait negotiations,” Ma said. “They also saw negotiation and consultation replace cross-strait animosity and confrontation.”
Ma made the remarks while unveiling a peace monument in offshore Kinmen County to commemorate the 1993 landmark talks. The site of the monument is significant as Kinmen-a group of islands situated several kilometers away from the mainland Chinese city of Xiamen off the coast of Fujian province-is a Republic of China (Taiwan) military garrison turned tourist destination that witnessed some of the fiercest battles between ROC and mainland Chinese communist forces during the Cold War.
According to the president, since he took office in May 2008, cross-strait relations have steadily progressed to their highest level on the back of the successful Koo-Wang talks. It was the first authorized meeting by representatives from the two sides of the strait, and resulted in the signing of four technical agreements on cross-strait exchanges.
Following the ROC’s relocation to Taiwan in 1949, the two sides of the strait did not conduct official exchanges or interactions. The SEF and ARATS were established in 1991 by Taipei and Beijing, respectively, as part of efforts to open and further cross-strait communications.
Prior to the Koo-Wang talks, SEF and ARATS representatives held preparatory meetings in Hong Kong and reached an understanding that laid the groundwork for the 1992 consensus-an oral understanding that there exists only one China, inclusive of Taiwan and mainland China, with both sides agreeing to differ on its precise political definition. This serves as the basis for Taipei’s dialogue with Beijing.
The spirit of pragmatism contained in the Koo-Wang talks has helped make possible the government’s goal of maintaining the cross-strait status quo based on the principle of no unification, no independence and no use of force, as well as the ROC Constitution and 1992 consensus.
“Through the realization of institutionalized cross-strait negotiations, 23 formal agreements have been reached across a spectrum of areas for the benefit of both sides,” Ma said.
People-to-people exchanges are one of the biggest gainers. The president cited a thirteenfold increase in the number of mainland tourists visiting Taiwan and a fiftyfold increase in the number of mainland Chinese students studying in Taiwan over the last eight years.
Of equal significance, Ma met with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping last November in Singapore. The historic summit captured headlines around the world and demonstrated that the two sides maintain a robust engagement characterized by stable relations.
“The peaceful development of cross-strait ties has earned recognition from the people of Taiwan and praise from the international community,” Ma said. “We expect the two sides to move forward on the existing basis and continue setting aside disputes in a win-win spirit.”
Source: Taiwan Today