Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen seeks to resume cross-strait talks

Goodwill and commitment towards China remain unchanged, says Taiwanese president

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen waves after the annual Han Kuang military drill in Pingtung county on Aug 25, 2016.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen waves after the annual Han Kuang military drill in Pingtung county on Aug 25, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI • Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called on China to resume official dialogue between the two sides, but maintained that the island will not bow to pressure from Beijing, as she kept up a media offensive on cross-strait relations ahead of Taiwan's Double Ten celebrations.

Ms Tsai was speaking at an international conference on the South China Sea dispute and Asia-Pacific regional peace in Taipei yesterday, the semi-official Central News Agency reported. She had made similar comments in interviews with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun earlier last week.

"The two sides of the strait should sit down for talks as soon as possible, so as to improve communication between both sides and get rid of many unnecessary misunderstandings," Ms Tsai said at yesterday's symposium, which was organised by the pro-independence Taiwan National Security Institute.

Beijing, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, is miffed by Ms Tsai's refusal to recognise the "1992 consensus" that there is only one China. It has suspended official dialogue and exchanges with Taipei since Ms Tsai took office in May to become Taiwan's first female president.

Taiwan has since also faced obstacles in attending several international meetings as a result of Beijing's influence.

Ms Tsai, whose party advocates eventual independence for Taiwan, insisted yesterday she has shown a "high level of goodwill" towards Beijing, as demonstrated in her inauguration speech.

She stressed her administration will not succumb to pressure from Beijing, the report said. She added that maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait is the choice of the Taiwan people, in remarks that echoed what she said in the media interviews earlier last week.

Her comments, coming two days before Taiwan celebrates the start of an uprising in 1911 that led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty and established the Republic of China in 1912, appeared to indicate that she is unlikely to break new ground on her position on cross-strait issues in her address to mark the anniversary, Central News Agency said.

In the interviews with the WSJ and the Yomiuri, Ms Tsai had criticised Beijing for "reverting to its old ways of 'suppression and division'".

She said Taiwan must reduce its economic dependence on mainland China, and signalled her administration's intention to move closer to Japan and other Asian countries.

But she recently made a conciliatory gesture towards China by appointing a pro-China politician, Mr James Soong, to represent her at a meeting of Asia-Pacific leaders next month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 09, 2016, with the headline 'Tsai seeks to resume cross-strait talks'. Print Edition | Subscribe