Taiwan's Tsai urges China to make joint effort to keep peace

Both sides share responsibility, she says in first media briefing since becoming President

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at a press briefing yesterday. Ms Tsai has angered China by refusing to endorse the 1992 Consensus.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen at a press briefing yesterday. Ms Tsai has angered China by refusing to endorse the 1992 Consensus.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

TAIPEI • In her first media briefing since her inauguration in May, Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen yesterday called on China to jointly keep peace across the strait amid strained ties, Bloomberg reported.

Her remarks came as a new poll showed that her approval rating had fallen from 53.2 per cent in July to 45.5 per cent last week.

"Mainland China should recognise both sides share the responsibility to maintain peaceful and stable development," Ms Tsai said in the briefing with domestic and foreign media.

"A communication mechanism has yet to be restored. We hope both sides can keep stability before considering a new view on dialogue," she said, adding that "there is no magic medicine" to resolve the existing strains.

Taiwan aims for "consistent, predictable and sustainable ties" with China and maintenance of the status quo, Ms Tsai said in Taipei.

Cross-strait relations have cooled as the new President refused to accept Beijing's version of the one-China principle and that both sides are part of one country, according to Bloomberg.

In their 1992 Consensus, both sides agreed there is only one China while allowing each its own interpretation of what that means. Previous president Ma Ying-jeou endorsed that doctrine, paving the way for talks in many areas, but Ms Tsai's refusal to do so has angered China. Though governed separately since 1949 as a result of civil war, China claims Taiwan as a province that it will retake by force if it declares independence.

Ms Tsai also appealed for regional peace. "We will keep communication with related parties concerning the South China Sea," she said. "Our goal is stable development in the region."

On domestic issues, Ms Tsai said that she is targeting an innovation- driven economy and that local companies need to speed up their pace of transformation.

Ms Tsai's administration has been plagued by a series of controversies, including the navy's misfiring of a missile that killed a Taiwanese fisherman and its handling of a South China Sea ruling against Taiwan's claim to an exclusive economic zone to Taiping island.

While public approval of Ms Tsai's performance has declined, her disapproval rating has risen to 39.8 per cent, according to a poll released last week by Taiwan Indicators Survey Research.

Also in decline was Ms Tsai's public trust, which went down from 57 per cent at the start of her administration to 49.2 per cent in the poll.

"I don't want others to judge my governance in 100 days, and likewise I won't judge the performance of my Cabinet members in 100 days," Ms Tsai said in the briefing yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 21, 2016, with the headline 'Taiwan's Tsai urges China to make joint effort to keep peace'. Subscribe