Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice presidential candidate Simon Chang in an interview with ‘Liberty Times’ (sister newspaper of the ‘Taipei Times’) reporters Lin Liang-sheng and Chiu Yen-ling said that the ‘1992 consensus’ does not touch on possible cross-strait unification, but Beijing and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have given the term negative connotations
Liberty Times (LT): Although you have helped draft many of KMT presidential candidate Han Kuo-Yu’s (韓國瑜) policy plans, as his vice president you would not be granted actual power under the Constitution if you win the election. How can you promise that the KMT administration will follow through with your ideas?
Simon Chang (張善政): There is not much I can do about the KMT, but Han is a party member; he has more than once spoken about the need to reform the KMT, especially the need to bring in the younger generations, and I believe in him.
When I agreed to be his running mate, Han promised to implement my policy plans. He also told me that if he is elected president, he would return to Kaohsiung to serve as mayor until May 20 and that during that period [leading up the swearing-in ceremony], we would discuss how to build a government team. I believe he meant what he said. Our team will inevitably include non-KMT members.
If the KMT wins the presidential election, I hope Han can reform the party and bring in more young people, and I look forward to seeing a method to coordinate the administration and the KMT.
LT: You have previously recommended that the KMT abandon the “1992 consensus” and adopt “one China according to the Constitution, while prioritizing Taiwan” (憲法一中，台灣優先) as its new model for cross-strait interactions. Have you changed your mind?
Chang: That was my stance when I launched my own presidential bid. To some extent, Han’s cross-strait policy also implies “one China according to the Constitution, while prioritizing Taiwan.”
As it is no longer enough to simply say the “1992 consensus,” we now say the “1992 consensus, with each side having its own interpretation of what one China means,” but we are concerned that the other side of the Taiwan Strait will not accept that, and that is why I originally proposed “one China according to the Constitution, while prioritizing Taiwan.”
When we were discussing the matter with former National Security Bureau director-general Tsai De-sheng (蔡得勝), he said the mainland had not rejected the idea of “one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what that means” in its internal documents, but it was rarely mentioned due to concerns that it could be interpreted as supporting the independence of the Republic of China. So I suggested saying both the “1992 consensus” and “one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what that means” in one sentence.
Simply saying the “1992 consensus” without mentioning “one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what that means” would be risky.
I am glad that the other side of the Strait responded with goodwill and allowed some flexibility, but if something happens, we would go back to “one China according to the Constitution, while prioritizing Taiwan.”
LT: Did Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) speech last year misinterpret the “1992 consensus”?
Chang: We do not accept part of what he said. I have said that the other side [of the Taiwan Strait] and the DPP are twisting the “1992 consensus” together. We originally said “one China,” and all acknowledged “belonging to one China,” but did not say in the future it would be united. Did the “1992 consensus” say this?
Xi used it to mean achieving unification, but our formulation is very clear: Now is not the time to decide between unification or independence, basically [we] are of the opinion that the “status quo” should be maintained. The two sides [of the Taiwan Strait] do not currently have the conditions to unify or to [declare] independence. The people of this generation do not have the power to limit the choice of the people of the next generation. We give this decision to the next generation.
LT: Was Xi’s speech last year aimed at advancing the process of unification?
Chang: He is accountable to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). I can understand him saying this, but our stance is: Sorry, [we] do not accept, it is too early to say [anything about unification].”
I could only say that [Xi has] put a bad label on the “1992 consensus.”