Boston, The two sides of the Taiwan Strait should pursue peace through wisdom, and Taiwan should not drag the United States into conflicts by mismanaging cross-strait relations, Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu said Thursday at a forum at Harvard University.
Han, who is currently on a nine-day visit to the U.S., told a closed-door forum at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies that the U.S. is a very important friend of Taiwan and that this friendship should not be abused.
"We cannot, and should not, drag our American friends down due to ineffective handling of cross-strait relations," Han said.
"It is one thing to befriend our American ally, but it's something else to take the American friendship for granted.
"We must assume our share of responsibility to secure peace in the Taiwan Strait so that our people can live in democracy and prosperity," said Han, who has the highest polling numbers of any potential KMT presidential candidate but has yet to say whether he will run.
According to a copy of Han's speech distributed to the media, the popular mayor told dozens of students and teachers that Taiwan's only military threat comes from Beijing and that as Taiwan strengthens its defense capabilities it must also seek peaceful co-existence with China.
Han suggested the need for wisdom to avoid potential conflicts. He stressed that China should not doubt Taiwan's determination to strive for democracy but also that Taiwan should not doubt China's determination for unification.
In his speech titled "The Power of Down to Earth -- They Talk the Talk, I Walk the Walk," Han said the major challenges for Taiwan's leader are how to safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and how to ensure Taiwan will not be excluded from important international activities.
Han also mentioned the "1992 consensus," which he described as a stabilizer of cross-strait relations.
"My basis for cross-strait relations is the 1992 consensus. My victory in the past election showed that people of Taiwan did not reject my stance on this matter," Han said.
He urged President Tsai Ing-wen who has rejected the existence of such a consensus, to come up with alternate ideas and concrete measures to maintain peace and sustain economic development.
"My view on the 1992 consensus is naturally 'one China, respective interpretations' based on Constitution ... certainly not 'one country two systems,'" Han added.
The "1992 consensus" is a term the KMT used to describe what it says was an understanding between the then-Kuomintang (KMT) government of Taiwan and Chinese communist officials in 1992, in which the two sides recognized that there is only one China.
As per the KMT's position, that "one China" can be defined either as the People's Republic of China (PRC mainland China) or the Republic of China (Taiwan). However, Beijing has never publicly recognized this interpretation.
James Huang a Harvard professor who attended the forum, cited Han as saying during a 90-minute Q&A held after the speech that Taiwan should seek assistance from the U.S. in terms of national defense, Japan in the field of technology and China as a market for Taiwan's exports.
Some participants voiced concern about how the two sides will interact and whether Taiwan will lean toward China, but Huang cited the mayor as saying that having an attitude of "being open, being friends" was the only way to resolve the difficult situation.
Han said the future was unpredictable if hostility persisted and if there was no trust between two sides, Huang said.
At a banquet afterwards, Han urged the crowd of almost 1,000 Taiwanese expatriates to cast their votes in next year's Taiwan presidential and legislative election, but he did not say whether he will run for the presidency.
"Whoever can secure Taiwan's safety and make its citizens rich, then this is the one who will be a great president for Taiwan. Please support this person," Han said.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel