Taiwan’s President Tsai urges mainland China to work with her to break deadlock

Island’s leader urges Beijing to resume contacts in hope of improving relations

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 3:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 August, 2017, 4:30pm

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has called on mainland China to work with her government to establish “a new model of cross-strait interactions”.

“We hope that both sides of the Taiwan Strait can work on a new model for cross-strait interactions that benefit the stability and prosperity of both sides and the region as a whole,” Tsai said in an address at a forum on regional security issues held in Taipei.

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Tsai said her administration, which has been given the cold-shoulder by Beijing since she came to power last year, “remains fully committed to maintaining the status quo” in relations with the mainland, but “this cannot be achieved by just one side alone.”

She said goodwill and cooperation is required from both sides, while keeping in mind their shared interests in prosperity and regional development.

Beijing suspended official contacts with Taipei soon after Tsai, from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), became president in May 2016.

Following a series of setbacks that increased Taiwan’s isolation on the world stage, including Panama’s decision to sever diplomatic relations with her government and establish them with Beijing, Tsai had suggested that her administration may adjust its policy.

Those attending the Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue, a one-day meeting that brought together experts from Taiwan, Japan and the United States, included Taiwan’s former DPP vice-president Annette Lu, who told reporters she hoped Tsai would show creativity in adjusting her cross-strait policy.

One solution Lu proposed was to adopt a policy of armed neutrality in global affairs, along the lines of Switzerland.

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Evans Revere, a senior fellow of the Centre for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, said Beijing should also be more pragmatic and creative.

“Getting beyond the ongoing argument about the ‘1992 consensus’ would be one way of doing that,” he told Kyodo News.

The consensus, which is China’s main condition for renewing dialogue, is a tacit understanding reached in that year between Taiwan’s then-ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Communist Party of China that there is only one China, with each side free to interpret what that means.

Taiwan formally calls itself the Republic of China.

Critics argue that since the consensus was reached between the ruling parties of the two sides and not at an official level, the DPP is not obliged to accept it.

Revere said Tsai had come up with some creative ideas in her inaugural address and other statements, which he said provide the potential for a solid foundation in cross-strait relations.

In addition to urging Beijing to listen carefully to Tsai, Revere expressed the hope that Beijing would think “as creatively as [Tsai has] been thinking”.

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He said he hoped that after the China’s Communist Party holds its twice-a-decade congress this autumn, where a key leadership shake-up is expected, its leadership will “have a little bit more confidence in itself to do the right thing” and try to “establish a more stable framework for cross-strait relations, hopefully along the lines of President Tsai’s suggestions”,