Join Hands to Consolidate Peace and Development in Cross-Straits Relations*
November 7, 2015
Today is a special day. This meeting between the leaders across the Taiwan Straits has turned a historic page in cross-Straits relations. Today will be remembered in history. There have been times when the Taiwan Straits lay under the shadow of military confrontation, separating compatriots and leaving many families in indelible pain or irreparable regret. However, the Straits cannot sever the bond between brothers, or stop the yearning of our compatriots for their homeland and family reunion. The power of kinship eventually broke the blockade across the Straits in the 1980s. Since 2008 cross-Straits relations have seen peaceful development, and over the past seven years the situation has been stable and peaceful. We have achieved many positive results in developing all our relations, thanks to efforts of both sides of the Straits and all our compatriots. It is due to the past seven years of development that we can make this historic step today.
The 66-year history of the development of cross-Straits relations shows that no matter what ordeals we have experienced, or how long we have been isolated from each other, no force can pull us apart. At this point, a decision has to be made on cross-Straits relations in regards to the direction and path of future development. The two sides should learn from past experiences, take on responsibility for the Chinese nation and for history, and make the right choice – one that can stand the test of history.
We are sitting together today to prevent a historical tragedy from repeating itself, to protect the fruits of peaceful development of cross-Straits ties, to enable compatriots across the Straits to continue to lead a life of peace and tranquility, and to enable our coming generations to share a bright future. Faced with new circumstances and standing at a new starting point of cross-Straits relations, the two sides should focus on the overall interests of the Chinese nation, follow the trend of the times, and join hands in consolidating the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. For this, I want to stress the following four points:
First, staying firmly committed to the common political basis. The key to the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations over the past seven years lies in the fact that both sides have honored the 1992 Consensus1 and opposed "Taiwan independence". Without this basis, peaceful development will suffer major setbacks, or even complete failure.
The 1992 Consensus has clear authorization and recognition from the relevant bodies on the two sides across the Straits, and is widely supported by the public on both sides. The Consensus is important in that it embodies the one-China principle, with a clear definition of the essence of cross-Straits relations. It indicates that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and the same China, and that their relationship is not one between countries, nor is it "one China, one Taiwan". Although the two sides are not yet unified, China has never been split in terms of sovereignty and territorial integrity. The two sides across the Straits belong to one country, and our compatriots across the Straits are one people. This historical fact and the legal basis have never changed, and will never change.
We hope that all political parties and organizations in Taiwan honor the 1992 Consensus. We are willing to communicate with any political party and organization, regardless of their past advocacies, as long as they recognize the 1992 Consensus and accept its core principles. Compatriots on both sides will not tolerate any act of secessionism. We have been and are always resolute on the principle of national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Second, continuing to consolidate the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations. For some 30 years cross-Straits relations have undergone historic changes. Around 2008 cross-Straits relations embarked on a path of peaceful development, and reached their best point since the founding of the PRC in 1949. Peace instead of conflict, communication instead of isolation, and consultation and cooperation instead of zero-sum confrontation have become the common wish of compatriots on both sides. Relations across the Straits are no longer hostile or confrontational, as they once were.
The history of the development of cross-Straits relations tells us that it was the people who suffered the most from tension and conflicts across the Taiwan Straits, and that peaceful development and pursuit of mutual benefit will not only benefit the two sides, but also the future generations of the Chinese nation. Our compatriots across the Straits should cherish the fruits of peaceful development, completely defuse hostility, keep to the path of peaceful development, and strive to build an institutional framework for a stable and peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.
The two sides should strengthen communication and dialogue, enhance political mutual trust, and solve long-standing and problematic issues through consultation and discussion on an equal footing, while managing differences and disputes. The two sides should set up hotlines for timely communication on urgent matters to avoid misjudgment, and a first hotline can be set up between the heads of departments in charge of cross-Straits affairs.
Over the past 60 years the two sides across the Straits have followed different paths of development, and practiced different social systems. The judgment on the path and system will be made by history and the people. Both sides should respect each other's choice of development path and social system, and avoid disruption of cross-Straits communication and cooperation due to disputes on these matters.
We understand the needs of our compatriots in Taiwan with regard to participation in international activities, and have solved many related problems. Reasonable arrangements can be made through pragmatic consultation between the two sides as long as they do not create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan".
The biggest threat to the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations now comes from the forces and activities for "Taiwan independence". They instigate hostility and confrontation across the Straits, undermine national sovereignty and territorial integrity, harm peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits, and deter the development of cross-Straits relations. They have nothing to offer but disaster to the Chinese on both sides of the Straits. We should stand firmly together to counter such moves.
Third, continuing to boost wellbeing of people on the two sides. We are one family, and harmony in the family leads to success in everything. The prime purpose and objective of our efforts to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations is to enhance our bond and the people's wellbeing and bring better lives to the people of both sides. As long as any effort is directed towards enhancing our bond and the wellbeing of the people, promoting peaceful development across the Straits, and maintaining the overall interests of the Chinese nation, both sides should try their best and ensure better results.
We are willing to take the initiative to share development opportunities with our compatriots in Taiwan. Our two sides can strengthen macro policy communication, make use of our respective strengths, and expand the scale of economic cooperation, to make the cake bigger so that more people will benefit from it and have a sense of gaining. On matters such as trade and the establishment of offices at each other's cross-Straits affairs organs2, the two sides can speed up negotiations and reach a consensus as soon as possible. We welcome our compatriots in Taiwan to participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, and welcome Taiwan to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in a proper form.
We should strengthen cultural and educational exchanges and cooperation, carry forward the best traditions of Chinese culture, enhance our cultural bond, and cultivate talent for the future of the Chinese nation.
The peaceful development of cross-Straits relations lies in our people, and the future in our youth. There are still many of our fellow-countrymen in Taiwan who have never been to the mainland. We welcome them to visit the mainland and take part in cross-Straits exchange and communication. We should provide more opportunities and create better conditions for young people on both sides to study, seek employment, start businesses, and talk to each other, so that the people on the two sides, especially the youth, can become an important driving force for the development of cross-Straits relations and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
Fourth, continuing to work with one heart for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The Chinese nation has a 5,000-year history, but suffered continual oppression at the hands of the Western powers in modern times. A hundred and twenty years ago, Taiwan fell into the hands of foreign forces, throwing the whole nation into anguish. It was not until 1945, when we drove out the Japanese aggressors, that Taiwan was restored, ending half a century of humiliation. Through the lessons of history we can deeply feel that the two sides across the Straits are inalienable and have a shared future. The prosperity of the Chinese nation will bring good fortune to people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, while weakness and turbulence only foreshadow disaster for both. The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is closely linked to the future and destiny of the people on both sides.
Now we are closer than ever to realizing this great dream, and we have the capability to succeed. In only a few decades we have achieved a degree of development which took many others hundreds of years. I believe that our compatriots in Taiwan will surely be involved in realizing national rejuvenation.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of China's fight against Japanese aggression, a victory won with tremendous sacrifice on the part of the whole nation. The two sides across the Straits should encourage cooperation between historians to share materials and jointly draft books, in order to carry forward that spirit and defend national dignity and honor. The people across the Straits should remember history, commemorate the revolutionary martyrs, cherish peace, unite as one, and join hands in advancing the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations.
* Main points of the talk with Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou in Singapore.
1 This refers to an oral agreement reached at a November 1992 meeting between the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits based on the mainland and the Straits Exchange Foundation based in Taiwan. The meeting discussed how to express the one-China principle in negotiations on general affairs, and agreed that both sides would follow the one-China principle, each with its respective interpretation.
2 This refers to the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and the Straits Exchange Foundation.
(Not to be republished for any commercial or other purposes.)