Tsai Ing-Wen

Candidate questions free-trade pact

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 August, 2011, 12:00am


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Taiwan's main opposition presidential candidate, Dr Tsai Ing-wen, vowed yesterday to revisit the island's free-trade pact with the mainland and press Beijing to accept 'real soveignty' for the island.

Tsai also questioned the so-called 1992 consensus, which the ruling Kuomintang has used as the foundation for a series of economic agreements with the mainland, and said the policy should be replaced with a new Taiwan consensus. Under it, she said, Beijing would have to recognise Taiwan as an 'independent state with real sovereignty'.

The candidate's remarks came during one in a series of events to detail the Democratic Progressive Party's platform on numerous issues from fiscal policy to the environment.

While the DPP has long questioned the 1992 consensus, it was the first time Tsai had detailed her cross-stait views since becoming the party's presidential candidate.

If elected president next year, Tsai said she would employ 'democratic procedures' to review last year's Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA), one of several deals with the mainland reached under President Ma Ying-jeou.

The DPP's 10-year blueprint was composed by more than 30 of the party's political experts. It is a main component of Tsai's campaign for next year's presidential election.

'There was no wording of the 1992 consensus in 1992,' she told Taiwanese media. 'Such a term was created [by former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi] and has only been used since 2000.

'I don't think that there is a question of me recognising or accepting, because it doesn't exist,' she added.

On the other hand, Tsai acknowledged the significance of the ECFA to the Taiwanese people, saying the DPP would follow up on the ECFA negotiations with Beijing carefully if the party regained power next year.

Ma said discarding the consensus could cause fresh instability across the strait.

'The Kuomintang has reiterated and kept cross-strait ties under the policy of 'no unification, no independence, no use of force', which is the basis on the 1992 consensus, since it regained power three years ago,' Ma said in Quemoy, where he attended a commemoration of the Kuomintang's 44-day artillery exchange with mainland forces in 1958.

'Cross-strait tensions have been eased under the 1992 consensus,' Ma continued. 'We not only have to support it, but also stick to it.'

The island's semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation warned that Tsai's policy would destroy all cross-strait progress.

Professor Xu Bodong of Beijing Union University said mainland leaders would likely ignore Tsai's words. 'Tsai's comments show that she still fails to win over the average voter,' Xu said. 'We don't think she will win the presidential election.'