Taiwan calls on Beijing to reopen dialogue to pave way for peace deal
Keeping channels for communication open should not depend on preconditions, Mainland Affairs Council spokesman says
Taiwan’s top agency in charge of mainland relations has called for a reopening of communication with Beijing to pave the way for a cross-strait peace agreement, the first time the independence-leaning party has expressed such a hope since coming to power in May.
Mainland Affairs Council spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng said Taipei hoped to resume communication with Beijing through channels set up by the main opposition Kuomintang party. Keeping avenues for dialogue open should not depend on preconditions, he said.
“We understand Beijing has core interests to uphold, but it also needs to positively understand the policies of the Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan’s mainstream opinion. It’s unfortunate for Beijing to unduly exaggerate or negatively interpret it,” Chiu said.
The DPP wanted to move towards a peace agreement with Beijing, he said. The party had not previously mentioned striking a peace deal with the mainland, although the idea had been floated by the previous KMT administration.
Since taking office in May, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has refused to endorse the 1992 consensus, the basis for cross-strait ties, which says there is one China and each side can interpret what “China” means.
Beijing has responded by closing down communication channels and, Taipei claims, limiting the number mainland tourists to the island, dealing a blow to an already struggling economy.
The council’s comments came after a meeting on Tuesday between President Xi Jinping and Hung Hsiu-chu, chairwoman of the KMT.
Chang Ling-chen, an honorary professor at National Taiwan University, said Tsai “obviously feels pressure after being elected president, given her government is confronted with so many problems”.
Chang also said the presidential election in the United States could create uncertainties for Taiwan.
“Tsai has bet on [Democratic candidate] Hillary Clinton. If Hillary wins, Tsai can still join hands with the US to go against Beijing. But if [Republican opponent] Donald Trump wins, Taiwan might be deserted like Japan and South Korea,” Chang said.
Trump has said he would weaken the security alliances with Asian allies, including South Korea and Japan.
Zhu Weidong, a Taiwan affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Taipei should first make clear its position on the consensus. “No matter what Taipei wants to discuss with Beijing, it should first tell Beijing its attitude towards the 1992 consensus, which embodies the one-China principle. Otherwise, it’s building an architecture without a base,” Zhu said. “One China or two Chinas, it’s a fundamental question the DPP should answer.”