Taiwan leader hopes for 'breakthrough' with China

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a conference between Taiwan and China relations organized by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) in Taipei.
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a conference between Taiwan and China relations organized by Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) in Taipei. PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI • Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen said the end of China's landmark party congress signals an "opportunity for change", as she called for dialogue with Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

She was speaking publicly for the first time since Mr Xi was handed a second term during the 19th Communist Party meeting that ended this week.

Ties between Taiwan and China have become increasingly frosty since Ms Tsai was elected President last year. Beijing cut off official communication with her government shortly after it took office due to her refusal to publicly accept the principle that both sides belong to "one China".

The rivals split after a civil war in 1949 and Taiwan is today a self-governing democracy, though it has never formally declared independence. China still sees it as part of its territory to be reunified, by force if necessary.

At an event yesterday marking the 30th anniversary of cross-strait exchanges, Ms Tsai said she hoped communications could now resume. "I must once again call on leaders from both sides to uphold tact and balanced, traditional political wisdom, to find a breakthrough," she said.

She added that they should also work towards "permanently abolishing fears of hostility and war".

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wished Mr Xi Jinping "great success" in a congratulatory but comparatively restrained message.

Mr Kim's note offered Mr Xi "sincere congratulations", state-run KCNA news agency said yesterday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2017, with the headline 'Taiwan leader hopes for 'breakthrough' with China'. Print Edition | Subscribe