Chinese minister says Taiwan's president-elect must respect one-China constitution

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi participates in a joined news conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department on Feb 23, 2016.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi participates in a joined news conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department on Feb 23, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Taiwan's president-elect Tsai Ing-wen must respect the island's own constitution that states Taiwan and the mainland are both part of one China, China's foreign minister has said during a visit to Washington.

Mr Wang Yi, a former head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said Ms Tsai's election was a normal political process that did not come as too big a surprise.

"We do not care that much who is in power in the Taiwan region of China," he said at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on Thursday (Feb 25), without directly using Ms Tsai's name.

"What we care about is once someone has come into power, how he or she handles the cross-strait relationship, whether he or she will maintain the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, whether he or she will recommit to the political foundation of cross-strait relations, the one China principle,"he said.

Mr Wang said he hoped that before Ms Tsai assumes power in May, she would indicate that she wants to pursue the peaceful development of ties and accept the provision in Taiwan's own constitution that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China.

"It will be difficult to imagine that somebody elected on the basis of that constitution should try to do anything in violation of its own constitution," Mr Wang said.

His comments were carried on the centre's website.

China considers Taiwan a wayward province, to be brought under its control by force if necessary. Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan in 1949 after the Chinese civil war.

Beijing has warned against any moves towards independence since January's landslide win by Ms Tsai and her independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Taiwan's presidential and parliamentary elections and said it would defend its sovereignty.

Ms Tsai has said she would maintain peace with China, and Chinese state-run media have also noted her pledges to maintain the "status quo" with China.

DPP spokesman Ruan Chao-hsiung said Mr Wang's remarks were consistent with Ms Tsai's position, which was to maintain the status quo under the island's constitutional framework.

"We hope to communicate with China in a more positive way in efforts to maintain peace across the Taiwan Strait,"Mr Ruan said.

Mr Wang said Taiwan's people wanted the peaceful development of ties, wanted Chinese tourists and business relations, and wanted to live in a climate of peace.