Tsai rejects deadline over 1992 consensus

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on a warship on July 13 before it sailed to the South China Sea on a patrol mission. China said that peaceful ties can be guaranteed only by upholding the "one China" principle.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on a warship on July 13 before it sailed to the South China Sea on a patrol mission. China said that peaceful ties can be guaranteed only by upholding the "one China" principle.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

President says any timeframe for agreeing to 'one China' idea is against the will of people

TAIPEI • The Taiwanese government is unlikely to accept a deadline for agreeing to the 1992 consensus as such a condition is against the will of the people, President Tsai Ing-wen has said.

Ms Tsai was responding to a question from The Washington Post newspaper on whether Chinese President Xi Jinping has set a deadline for her acceptance of the 1992 consensus, a tacit agreement between Beijing and Taipei that there is one China, with each side having a different interpretation of what that "one China" means.

Ms Tsai, who took office in May, has in her public speeches so far failed to acknowledge the consensus, which China has set as a condition for stable and peaceful cross- strait ties to continue.

Cross-strait ties had improved under Ms Tsai's predecessor Ma Ying-jeou on the basis of the 1992 consensus but have cooled since Ms Tsai and her independence- leaning Democratic Progressive Party came to power.

China's Cabinet-level Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) yesterday responded to Ms Tsai's comments - published in The Washington Post on Thursday - reiterating that stable and peaceful ties can be guaranteed only through upholding the 1992 consensus and its core meaning that both sides belonged to one China.

"Institutionalised exchanges between the two sides can continue only on the basis of the 'one China' principle," added TAO spokesman Ma Xiaoguang.

Beijing had cut off official channels of communication with Taiwan after Ms Tsai's inauguration.

When asked in her interview how she planned to handle day-to- day relations with China given the severed channels of communication, Ms Tsai had said that the two sides had diverse channels.

"These include not just official communications but also people- to-people contacts."

Asked whether she was in touch with her counterparts in the Chinese government, she said: "Different levels of government have different ways of communicating with their counterparts with China." But she would not go into details.

She said, however, that her government has been handling relations with China carefully. "We do not take provocative measures, we make sure that there are no surprises, and we hope that through channels of communication, we can gradually build up trust," she said.

On whether she was worried that China would put pressure on Taiwan by wooing away the few diplomatic allies it had, she said: "We will do everything we can to maintain those relations and make sure that our diplomatic allies feel that having diplomatic relations with Taiwan is worthwhile."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 23, 2016, with the headline 'Tsai rejects deadline over 1992 consensus'. Print Edition | Subscribe