President Tsai resists pressure to forgo re-election bid

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Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a press conference in Taipei, Taiwan, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. Tsai has rejected the Chinese president's call for unification under a "one country, two systems" approach. (AP Photo/Wu Taijing)

TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Jan. 3 responded to a call by four independence advocates for her to forgo a re-election bid, saying that her Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has a democratic system for selecting its presidential candidates and that no one person has the final say in such a matter.

“At a time when China is pressuring Taiwan to accept its ‘one country, two systems’ model, my unshirkable responsibility as a democratically elected head of state is safeguarding Taiwan’s sovereignty and our democratic way of life and letting the world see the will and determination of the Taiwanese people,” Tsai said, according to Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺).

She reiterated that as long as she is president, she will do her best to resist all pressure on Taiwan and will never accept the “1992 consensus” or the “one country, two systems” model put forth by Beijing, Huang said.

“I’ll spare no effort to protect this country and adhere to my duties,” Tsai said.

According to Huang, Tsai expressed the hope that the four independence advocates would understand the current situation and the huge difficulties facing Taiwan, which are the top priorities for the country at the moment.

The DPP has a democratic system for selecting its 2020 presidential candidate, Tsai pointed out, Huang said.

“No one person has the final say in this matter because what counts is the democratic system that is already in place,” she was quoted as saying.

Her comments came in response to an open letter published by four senior Taiwan independence advocates earlier in the day, urging Tsai to forgo a re-election bid in 2020 and keep a lower profile in light of the DPP’s crushing defeat in the local government elections last November.

The letter was signed by national policy adviser Wu Li-pei (吳澧培), former national policy adviser Peng Ming-min (彭明敏), Taiwanese independence advocate Kao Chun-ming (高俊明) and former Academia Sinica President and Nobel laureate Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲).

Commenting on the advice offered in the letter, acting DPP Chairman Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) said the party will field the best candidate selected by due process in a vote by all the DPP delegates at a national congress.

“This is what makes democratic Taiwan different from autocratic China,” he said.

The letter was published in the major newspapers in Taiwan one day after Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said Taiwan “must and will be” united with China based on the “1992 consensus” and under the “one China principle.” However, “we will not renounce the use of force or give up the option to use all necessary measures” to serve that end and crack down on Taiwan independence, Xi said in a speech to mark the 40th anniversary of China’s “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan.”

The “1992 consensus” refers to a verbal agreement reached in 1992 between the then Kuomintang (KMT) government of Taiwan and Chinese communist officials that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge there is only “one China,” with each side free to interpret what “China” means.

Since assuming office in May 2016, Tsai has refused to acknowledge the “1992 consensus,” which has resulted in a stalemate in cross-strait relations and increased pressure from Beijing on Taiwan.

By Yeh Su-ping and Flor Wang