Contrary to Xi's speech, 84% of Taiwanese do not accept '1992 consensus'

Despite Xi Jinping's speech, survey shows 84% of Taiwanese do not accept '1992 consensus' under Beijing's 'one China principle'

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(Image by Ken Lin)

(Image by Ken Lin)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Despite Chinese President Xi Jinping's demand that Taiwan adhere to the mythical "1992 consensus" during a speech given on Wednesday, over 80 percent of Taiwanese do not accept Beijing's definition of the fictional accord.

On Jan. 2, Xi gave a speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of a policy message from the Chinese communist Party (CCP) entitled “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” made on Jan. 1, 1979. During the speech, Xi insisted that Taiwan "must and will be" united with China based on the "1992 consensus" under the "one China principle."

However, a telephone survey carried out by the Cross-Strait Policy Association from Dec. 27-28 found that 84.1 percent of Taiwanese respondents could not accept the "1992 consensus" under the Chinese Communist Party's "one China principle." According to the poll, 81.2 percent could not accept the "1992 consensus" if it promoted economic development at the cost of Taiwan's sovereignty and turns it into a local government under China's control.

The survey found that 45.1 percent do not believe that the consensus is real, while 32.6 percent thought it existed. Over 50 percent of respondents were not actually clear about the consensus itself, while 40.2 percent claimed to clearly understand it.

As for the interpretation of its meaning, 44.4 percent thought that it meant that "the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are two different countries," 20.9 percent thought it signified that "they are two parts of the same country waiting to be united," 20.6 interpreted it to mean "each side claims to represent China as a whole," and 7.1 percent were under the impression "The Republic of China is a local government of the People's Republic of China."

The poll also revealed that nearly 65 percent of respondents did not support the idea that "there is no need to understand the content of the 1992 consensus, as long as they agree that the 1992 consensus can bring about economic development." An overwhelming 91.7 percent support the government in promoting economic development, but believed overall national security was equally important.

The survey was carried out via telephone from Dec. 27-28 and gathered 1,081 valid samples, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.98 percentage points and a confidence level of 95 percent, according to the association. In November of last year, another survey, which was sponsored by the Global Taiwan Institute, came to the conclusion that "Taiwanese people have no consensus on the definition of 1992 consensus."

As for Xi's assertion during the speech that "The Chinese dream [of national rejuvenation] is the common dream of compatriots across the strait," a survey carried out in 2018 by National Chengchi University (NCCU) found that only 3 percent of Taiwanese wanted unification with China now and 12.5 percent said they preferred staying with the status quo for now before eventually being "reunified" with China. While another survey, carried out by the Taiwan National Security in 2016, found that 72 percent of Taiwanese already consider Taiwan to be an independent country.

In response to Xi's speech, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) countered by saying, "Taiwan will never accept a ‘one country, two systems’ framework." The majority of Taiwan’s public opinion resolutely opposes “one country, two systems,” she added. "This is the Taiwan consensus.”

Former KMT Legislator Su Chi (蘇起) has admitted on multiple occasions that he introduced the concept of the "1992 consensus" in 2000, before the KMT administration handed over power to the Chen Shui-bian administration. The idea was to suggest that the governments of Taiwan and China could both entertain their own idea of what "One China" actually means.

Throughout the intervening years the term has become fossilized in the ideology underpinning the KMT's party platform as a symbolic expression of the KMT's historical ties to China, and been wielded as a political cudgel to attack the DPP. Subsequently, Beijing took a cue from the KMT's criticisms of the Chen administration and the DPP, and seized on the "consensus agreement of 1992," transforming it further into a mantra for China's own cross-strait policy, refashioning the slogan into a "prerequisite" that must be "honored" before meaningful cross-strait dialogue can be achieved.

When Tsai took office in 2016, she refused to recognize the "1992 Consensus," and only acknowledged that the 1992 Taiwan-China talks were a "historical fact." In response, China has been seeking to punish Taiwan by excluding it from international organizations, stealing away diplomatic allies, and intimidating government bodies and corporations, such as airlines, to de-list Taiwan as a country.