Washington, Taiwan's minister of mainland affairs on Wednesday put forth a candid and practical proposal for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to work out rules for an orderly interaction.
"The two sides differ internally in their views on the development of cross-Strait relations. They should mutually respect each other, listen to rational views domestically, and work out rules for an orderly interaction," Chen Ming-tong (???) said in his opening remarks at an international conference on "The Opportunities and Challenges of Cross-Strait Relations" sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.
Chen's talk was titled "Democracy and Freedom: The Cornerstones for Developing Cross-Strait Relations."
He said cross-Strait relations have affected peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region since 1949. He described the past nearly 70 years of cross-Strait relations as a journey from conflict to conciliation, and then a swing to unease.
"For years, the two sides have attempted to bring their mutual relationship to a final settlement through force, peace, or a mixture of other means. However, a solution satisfactory to both sides has not been found due to an insistence on national sovereignty and a democratic way of life," he said.
He pointed out that the Republic of China on Taiwan will never relinquish its sovereignty in exchange for an illusory peace.
Nor will the 23 million people of democratic Taiwan ever allow their destiny to be decided under the non-democratic system of the other side of the strait, he added.
He acknowledged that the past several years have witnessed rapid changes in Asia and posed unprecedented challenges for cross-Strait relations.
However, "the ROC government has remained a force of responsible stabilization through its commitment to maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait," he said.
He noted that since taking office over two years ago, President Tsai Ing-wen (???) has consistently handled cross-Strait relations with pragmatism and managed cross-Strait affairs in accordance with the ROC Constitution, the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, and other relevant legislation.
While Taiwan works hard to guard and develop its democratic way of life, Mainland China has centralized control even more with the intent to change global order and international framework, he said.
He sees the current Chinese governance model as not only lacking respect for democracy and human rights, but also using social control through pervasive monitoring of its citizens by means of modern electronic technology.
The "China model" has attracted the world's attention for its economic developmental achievements, but it lacks the institutional means to reflect public opinion and ensure accountability, he said.
Beijing has used "sharp power" to export its ideology and influence government policy-making in other countries, he continued.
This has put many nations on increased alert and drawn attention to Mainland China's intention to expand institutional control and change the global order, he said.
He hoped mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping (???) will live up to his own word by leading the Communist Party of China, the world's largest political party, to "behave in a way commensurate with this status."
Such behavior should include respect for democracy and human rights, as well as an understanding that, in relations with neighbors, "only benevolence in a great country is able to serve a small one," Chen said.
On China's soured relations with Taiwan, Chen said Beijing's long denial of the existence of the ROC has prevented resolution of the political impasse across the Taiwan Strait.
To stop the spiral of hostility between the two sides from escalating, he suggested that each side seeks internal consensus and views since the two sides differ internally in their views on the development of cross-Strait relations.
"They should mutually respect each other, listen to rational views domestically," and work out a mechanism for fruitful cross-strait interaction, he said.
"We are willing to promote cross-Strait dialogue and communication in any form, at any place without political preconditions, while conducting potential risk management," he said.
He reaffirmed that thee ROC is a sovereign state and Taiwan's core interest is to maintain the sustainable development of its democratic and free system.
"We will not degrade ourselves because of belittlement by others, but will more determinedly reach out to the world. Looking ahead, we are certain that dialogue is the best option to resolve differences. The choice between conflict and peace in fact lies in the thoughts of the leaders," he said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel