(dpa) - Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian Tuesday denied the existence of a so-called "1992 consensus" that his successor insisted he would use to resume talks with rival China.
In a meeting with Ma Ying-jeou, who represented the Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang (KMT), to win the March 22 presidential election, to discuss the transfer of power, the outgoing president said he did not think any consensus was reached in Hong Kong between negotiators of the two rival sides of the Taiwan Strait.
"No such consensus was reached during the 1992 talks in Hong Kong," Chen said when Ma stressed such a consensus is necessary for the rival sides to resume talks on major issues shelved since 1999.
Chen, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, said even his predecessor Lee Teng-hui and the chief negotiator, the late business tycoon Koo Chen-fu, had denied the existence of such a consensus.
He said Ma might risk losing Taiwan to China if he used the non-existing consensus to hold talks with Beijing.
Ma, however, argued that the consensus is the key to resumption of cross-strait talks and instead of disputing the wording of the term, it is the substance that counts.
"Many people from the (pro-independence) green camp are worried that once Ma Ying-jeou heads the government, he might sell out Taiwan to the mainland," he said.
Ma said he would not sacrifice the interests of Taiwan and its 23 million people and would fight for the existence of Taiwan and its prosperity in holding talks with China.
After Ma, a China-friendly politician, won the presidential election, Chinese leaders, including President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, have in the past several days agreed to resume talks with Taiwan based on the "1992 consensus," but both have not specified what that consensus means.
The controversial consensus refers to an understanding between Taiwanese and Chinese negotiators during their talks in Hong Kong in 1992. It allows the two sides to each of their own interpretations of the "one China" principle to facilitate them to continue talks without worrying about the thorny sovereignty issue.
Taiwan and China split at the end of a civil war in 1949. Beijing still considers Taiwan a Chinese province that must be brought back to the Chinese fold, if necessary by force. Since the early 1990s, Taipei has sought to hold peace talks with Beijing.