Beijing cuts Ma-era cross-strait communication channel with Taiwan

Move seen as mainland ratcheting up pressure on government of Tsai Ing-wen to recognise 1992 consensus one-China principle

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 June, 2016, 6:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 June, 2016, 11:42am

The mainland said on Saturday that it has stopped a communication mechanism with Taiwan, foiling the attempt by the island’s new government to break the current deadlock over cross-strait ties.

With neither side showing a sign of reaching a compromise, analysts said such a state would remain the status quo until one side relented.

In practical terms, Taiwan cannot suffer indefinitely, economically and politically, experts said.

In what appeared to be the first official comment from Beijing on the communication channel set up by the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) and the island’s Mainland Affairs Council in 2014, TAO spokesman An Fengshan confirmed that mechanism had been cut off.

Beijing expresses dissatisfaction after Taiwan’s new President Tsai Ing-wen swaps ‘consensus’ for ‘historic fact’

“Because the Taiwan side has been unable to recognise the 1992 consensus – the joint political basis for showing the one-China principle – the cross-strait contact and communication mechanism has been suspended since May 20”, An said in a statement carried by Xinhua on Saturday.

The consensus refers to an understanding made in 1992 by representatives of the two sides in Hong Kong, which states that both sides agree there is only one China, with each having their own interpretation of what that stands for.

An’s comment came a day after Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council protested to Beijing for pressing Cambodia to send 25 Taiwanese nationals suspected of telecom fraud to the mainland on Friday.

The council said it had voiced its concern to Beijing through cross-strait communication channel. An, however, said cross-strait communication could only be resumed after Taiwan’s new government accepted the consensus.

When President Tsai Ing-wen, of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, was sworn in on May 20, she only acknowledged that there was such a meeting during which the two sides tried to seek common ground over their differences. She, however, pledged to maintain the cross-strait status quo in line with the constitution of the Republic of China – Taiwan’s official title – which contains the one-China concept.

Beijing threatens to suspend talks with Taipei until Tsai Ing-wen acknowledges ‘1992 consensus’

Beijing, however, has viewed her speech as an “incomplete test paper,” and has since stepped up pressure by repeatedly ignoring requests from the Tsai government for talks and communication. It has also tried to exert economic pressure on the island by reducing the number of mainland visitors to Taiwan.

“The standstill will continue until one side can no longer stand it any more,” said Kao Kong-lian, former vice-president of Taipei’s Straits Exchange Foundation, which represented the government in talks with the mainland in the past eight years when Ma Ying-jeou of the mainland-friendly Kuomintang was president from 2008 until this year.

1992 consensus between Beijing and Taipei appears here to stay

“Possibly the new government will choose to make new statement during a major occasion like national day or the New Year Day’s address to the public about its cross-strait policy,” Kao noted.

Hsieh Ming-hui, executive director of the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum, said Beijing will increase its pressure step by step to try to force Tsai to compromise, and Taiwan was bound to suffer economically and politically in the end.