TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) offered little new on relations with China in her inaugural address Wednesday, saying she was willing to engage in dialogue with China but would not allow the downgrading of Taiwan.
In a speech that only briefly touched on China, Tsai said her administration had made the “greatest effort” to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait during her first term and would stick to that approach in the next four years.
“We will continue these efforts, and we are willing to engage in dialogue with China and make more concrete contributions to regional security,” she said.
Tsai reiterated the four basic principles “peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue” for cross-Strait affairs she first outlined after her re-election victory in January, and again rejected Beijing’s “use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.”
“We stand fast by this principle,” said the president, whose opposition to the “one country, two systems” formula was a common theme in her re-election campaign.
Arguing that cross-Strait relations have reached a “historical turning point,” the president said both sides have “a duty to find a way to coexist over the long term and prevent the intensification of antagonism and differences.”
“Faced with changing circumstances, I will hold firm to my principles, adopt an open attitude to resolve issues, and shoulder my responsibilities as president,” she said.
Tsai called on her Chinese counterpart to share the same responsibility and work with her “to jointly stabilize the long-term development of cross-strait relations.”
She said Taiwan would continue to handle cross-strait affairs according to the Constitution of the Republic of China, which “has been our consistent position for maintaining the peaceful and stable status quo in the Taiwan Strait.”
The president’s continued call for dialogue while asserting Taiwan’s sovereignty came at a time when relations between Taiwan and China are at a virtual standstill.
Beijing has taken a hard line against Tsai and her pro-Taiwan independence Democratic Progressive Party since she assumed office in May 2016, using both military and diplomatic pressure to try to prevent Taiwan from expanding its presence internationally.
Taiwan has lost seven diplomatic allies to China since Tsai assumed office, and was also recently excluded from the World Health Assembly for a fourth consecutive year because of Beijing’s opposition.