Taiwan, China; Progress in Cross-Strait Relations

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Byline: Vanessa Shih, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

With the visit to Taiwan of a delegation led by Chen Yunlin, chairman of mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) to meet with Chiang Ping-kung, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), on November 3, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have established the pattern for institutionalized negotiations based on the principles of parity and reciprocity. This marks a new milestone in cross-strait relations, replacing confrontation with peaceful negotiation. More than a major event in the history of cross-strait relations, ARATS Chairman Chen's visit to Taiwan has far-reaching implications for regional peace and stability.

Taiwan must consider in earnest its long-term relations with mainland China. Since taking office, President Ma Ying-jeou has framed the development of cross-strait relations in terms of four imperatives: we must squarely face reality; neither side should deny the other's existence or legitimacy; the people's welfare must be our top priority; and whatever actions are taken must be conducive to peace across the Taiwan Strait. The Ma administration has energetically promoted cross-strait conciliation and mutual trust on the basis of these dictums. The second round of Chiang-Chen Talks in Taipei signifies a major achievement in the two sides' efforts to handle cross-strait relations in a pragmatic manner.

The second round of talks, conducted over the past few days, has a multidimensional significance. First, it exemplifies the principle of negotiations on an equal footing and non-denial of each other's existence and legitimacy. Since they first made contact in the early 1990s, SEF and ARATS have held talks in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Beijing. ARATS Chairman Chen is the highest-ranking mainland Chinese representative to come to Taiwan for negotiations since 1949. This first-ever meeting of the heads of the SEF and ARATS in Taipei is a promising step in the right direction.

The just-concluded round of negotiations was conducted on the basis of parity, dignity,and reciprocity. In the course of negotiations, the ROC government never compromised the Republic of China's sovereignty, and it remained steadfast in putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people. All criticisms to the effect that President Ma is subservient to the mainland are unfounded and untrue.

Second, the Chiang-Chen talks signify adherence to President Ma's maxims of shelving disputes and cooperating to create a win-win situation. …