Taipei (CNA) – President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has reiterated her proposal that Taipei and Beijing create a new model to handle cross-Taiwan Strait relations, which have been at a standstill for more than a year since her inauguration in May 2016.
Taiwan is hoping that both sides can begin to think about the matter after the conclusion of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, during which the party’s new leadership will be elected, Tsai told CNA in an exclusive interview on Sunday.
The week-long CCP National Congress is due to open on Oct. 18.
Tsai said the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have for many years dealt with their ties based on an established model and guidelines, which to a certain extent have helped maintain cross-strait stability.
In view of new international situations, however, they should consider if there is a need to examine these old practices and mindsets, the president said.
“If we keep sticking to these past practices and ways of thinking, it will probably be very hard for us to deal with the volatile regional situations in Asia,” she said.
Unhappy that Tsai’s government has refused to recognize the “1992 consensus,” Beijing has suspended official dialogue with Taipei since Tsai came to power, becoming Taiwan’s first female president.
The consensus refers to an understanding reached between Taipei and Beijing in 1992 that there is only one China, with the two sides free to interpret its meaning.
Beijing has insisted that the Tsai administration explicitly accept the consensus — and in effect that Taiwan is part of “one China” — as the political foundation for the continuation of relatively warm relations under her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Tsai, however, has only been willing to say that she respects the historical fact that the cross-strait talks took place and that some understandings were reached.
In the Sunday interview, the president said both sides have made considerable efforts to maintain cross-strait stability over the past 16 months. On major political issues, however, “they feel we have not reached their expectations, but we have already shown the utmost goodwill.”She reiterated that the viewpoints outlined in her inaugural address will remain her principles in dealing with cross-strait ties.
She reiterated that the viewpoints outlined in her inaugural address will remain her principles in dealing with cross-strait ties.
Tsai promised in her inauguration speech that her administration will work to maintain the existing mechanisms for dialogue and communication across the Taiwan Strait and will conduct cross-Strait affairs in accordance with the Republic of China Constitution, the Act Governing Relations Between the People of Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, and other relevant legislation.
She also recognized that “there was a joint acknowledgment of setting aside differences to seek common ground” in the 1992 talks between the representatives of Taipei and Beijing.
In Sunday’s interview, Tsai also did not see the open support voiced for Taiwan independence by Taiwan’s newly appointed premier, Lai Ching-te (賴清德), at the Legislative Yuan on Sept. 26 as affecting cross-strait relations.
She said Lai is fully aware of the government’s overall policy goals and understands very well “what the limits are.”
Meanwhile, addressing Taiwan’s military readiness, the president said the government will increase its defense spending gradually over the next few years to provide the military with stable financial resources to support efforts to develop a plan to increase Taiwan’s combat capacity in the next decade. •
By Lu Hsin-hui and Y.F. Low