Beijing slammed for using ‘carrot and stick’ coercion to change Taiwanese ‘status quo’ by top island official

Chen Ming-tong, Taiwan’s mainland affairs chief, told a Washington audience that Taipei would settle its issues with Beijing through dialogue

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 July, 2018, 12:14am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 July, 2018, 10:33pm

Taiwan’s mainland affairs chief has denounced China’s “carrot and stick strategies” as an attempt to coerce the self-ruled island into changing the “status quo”, but has said Taipei is willing to settle its differences with Beijing in “good faith” via dialogue.

Chen Ming-tong, Taiwan’s minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, told a Heritage Foundation event in Washington on Wednesday that China has repeatedly sought to pressure Taiwan – either by military and diplomatic means, or through adopting policies aimed at integrating Taiwan with the mainland.

“By these carrot-and-stick strategies, Beijing has been undermining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait with ever greater speed in an attempt to lead to an irreversible outcome,” Chen said, adding: “We will not degrade ourselves because of belittlement by others,”

Chen’s remarks came as Beijing began testing its military muscle in a six-day live-fire drill over an area “roughly the size of Taiwan” in the East China Sea.

The Chinese nationalist state tabloid Global Times said the area would be a major battlefield if hostilities broke out between Beijing and Taipei.

Beijing launches live-fire drill to ‘test combat strength against Taiwan’

But Chen, Taiwan’s top mainland affairs official, said he believed that dialogue was “the best option to resolve differences” with Beijing since it would allow both sides to make “the choice between conflict and peace”.

Speaking with reporters after the event, Chen toned down his rhetoric, saying Beijing would appreciate Taipei’s show of “good faith” in a dialogue that could prevent cross-strait relations from returning to the “old confrontation mode”.

On Friday, President Xi Jinping pledged to work for “peaceful” cross-strait development during a meeting with Lien Chan, the ex-chairman of Taiwan’s former ruling Kuomintang Party.

“We have the confidence and ability to keep a firm hold on the correct direction, work for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, and advance the process toward the peaceful reunification of China,” Xi was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.

Xi Jinping takes pacifying line on Taiwan as hawks call for force

Xi called on the two sides to work together to uphold the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle, and to resolutely oppose and deter “Taiwan independence”.

Chen arrived in Washington on Tuesday in his first US visit as Taiwan’s mainland affairs chief.

The official is believed to be conducting a review of mainland policy with US officials and think tanks, one source with knowledge of the matter said.

The US State Department and the office of Taiwan’s representative in Washington declined to provide details of Chen’s visit.