Wu Boxiong, chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), has landed in Beijing. The Chinese Nationalist Party currently controls both the presidency and the legislative yuan in Taiwan, giving his visit special weight.
He earlier visited the southern-capital of Nanjing, the original capital of the Republic of China (now in Taiwan). As is tradition for all KMT visitors, he paid his respects to the grave of Sun Zhongshan. Sun Zhongshan remains recognized as the “father of our nation” (国父) in both the mainland and Taiwan, and his presence is a constant reminder of that which unites both straits.
In Beijing, Hu Jintao responded to Ma Yingjiu’s inauguration speech by explicitly re-stating that the issue of Taiwan joining the WHO would be solved as the first priority in upcoming negotiations.
The fact that this seemingly simple issue deeply divided the two sides for years goes to show just how devious the campaign run by the independence-seeking administration of Chen Shui-bian was. In Beijing, Chen Shui-bian’s campaign to get the WHO to accept Taiwan as a sovereign member was seen as dangerous, because it would set possible legal precedent for formal independence. In Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian was able to paint this as a sign that Beijing were willing to sacrifice the health of average Taiwanese to achieve a political goal. (Left unsaid is the obvious fact that Chen Shui-bian was also willing to sacrifice the health of average Taiwanese to achieve a political goal: Taiwan could’ve been involved in the WHO as “Taipei, China” at any point over the last 8 years.)
But hopefully this issue, and other similar issues, will be resolved to the advantage of all involved.
Hu Jintao emphasized that the Communist and Nationalist parties must work together to establish confidence and put aside conflict, help create a win-win situation. The first step is to establish mutual confidence, this is critical to pushing forward cross-strait relations. Opposing Taiwanese independence and holding firm to the “92 consensus” is the basic foundation of confidence-building. As long as there is shared unity on this core question, everything else can be discussed. Of secondary importance is putting aside conflict. There are still historical legacies that create problems, and there might also be new problems, and some of these issues can’t be solved immediately. We have to have a practical attitude, and attempt to solve these issues with good-will…
Hu Jintao expressed that we understand the Taiwanese compatriots feelings about seeking international space. As was mentioned in a statement released in 2005, after cross-strait negotiations are re-started, both sides will discuss the question of international participation, including priority for the question of joining the World Health Organization…
Hu Jintao stressed that the Communist Party will continue to insist on protecting the basic interests of the Chinese people (zhonghua minzu), including the shared interests of our Taiwanese compatriots. We care for, respect, and trust our Taiwanese compatriots. As far as the misunderstandings and suspicions some Taiwanese compatriots hold towards cross-strait relations, we will do more than just try to accept them, we will take active measures to resolve their concerns.
I am willing to speak with authority and tell chairman Wu that the mainland will always consider the basic interests of all the sons and daughters of the Chinese race. We will not mix together the concepts of “localization” and Taiwanese independence.
In his meeting, Hu again brings up the WHO issue and stresses shared common roots, and also accommodated the obvious growth of “Taiwanese consciousness” with a Chinese identity. It all seems a clear response to the topics that Ma Yingjiu stressed in his inauguration speech. Combining Hu and Ma’s public statements, it’s hard not to be optimistic about the future of cross-strait affairs. The continued cooperation and positive good-will shared by the Communist Party and the Nationalist Party should mean rapid progress going forward.
Hu Jintao also invited Wu Boxiong to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and Wu has accepted. In some ways its a shame, because some of us hoped President Ma Yingjiu could personally attend the Opening Ceremony.
UPDATE: Not everyone is celebrating the repeated mentions of shared Chinese heritage from Ma Yingjiu and Wu Boxiong. For Western ex-pats in Taiwan, the only option the vast majority support is full independence. See Michael Turton’s blog here, and here. The idea of a reunified China based on shared Chinese heritage doesn’t do much for them.