TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan’s options for the future lie only between maintaining the status quo tied to the “1992 consensus,” a formula endorsing the one China principle, and unifying with China, while independence was not possible, former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said on Dec. 20.
Ma, who served as president from 2008-2016, made the assertions in what he said were “ultimate solutions” to the relationship between Taiwan and China, in his biography – “A Memoir of Eight Years in Office” launched on Thursday.
But he emphasized that the possibility of cross-strait unification can only be achieved “in a democratic and peaceful manner” through a referendum on the topic by the people of Taiwan and that no specific time frame should be given on such a vote.
“Pragmatically speaking, there exists no possibility of Taiwan independence. The only option is whether to reunify (with China) or not,” Ma said in his book.
Ma’s stance on cross-strait relations when he was in office was guided by the three principles of “no independence, no unification, and no use of force,” known as “Three Noes.”
In a recent speech, Ma has made a departure from the “Three Noes” by replacing “no unification” with “no ruling out the possibility of unifying with China,” while sticking to the positions of “no support for Taiwan independence” and “no use of force.”
Ma said he adopted the position of “no unification” when he was president because he had no plan to initiate talks with China about unification during his tenure.
However, it’s an objective under the Constitution to pursue unification, Ma said, citing the preamble of Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China.
Ma said the only way to achieve unification is by staging a referendum to acquire the consent of Taiwanese people without a time frame set to rush the process.
“It’s been 22 years since Taiwan’s first presidential election (in 1996). There is no way that a question on whether Taiwan unifies with China is not decided by a vote,” Ma said.
Meanwhile, Ma said that President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) approach to handling cross-strait relations by siding with the United States and Japan in an alliance apparently aimed at confronting China was not in the interests of Taiwan.
Tsai has failed to earn goodwill from China despite the fact that she has adopted a policy of maintaining the status quo, Ma said. “This is because Tsai has refused to accept the ‘1992 consensus’ which is a central part of the status quo,” Ma said.
The biography was authored by Hsiao Hsu-tsen (蕭旭岑), former deputy secretary-general of the Presidential Office, based on his interviews with Ma.
In response to Ma’s statements, Presidential Office Spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said that Ma’s initiative of not ruling out unification “sent a wrong message to the international community” and “infringed upon the rights of the people of Taiwan in deciding their future.”
At a time when China has been suppressing Taiwan by every means, an initiative like this was tantamount to sending a message to the international community that the people of Taiwan were fine with the suppression or even acquiesced to it, Huang said.
The rights of Taiwan’s people to determine their future should never be used as a bargaining chip to exchange for goodwill from China, Huang said. “Any politicians, whether they are in office or have left office, should uphold the position in the interests of the nation and its people,” he said.
By Shih Hsiu-chuan