After the landslide victory of incumbent Tsai Ing-wen in Taiwan's presidential election last Saturday, both Beijing and Taipei reiterated their commitment to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Yet, the signs are that tensions will stay high or even escalate as the two sides remain far apart on how peaceful development of cross-strait relations should be achieved. Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office, in a response to Ms Tsai's re-election, said peaceful development of cross-strait ties must be on the basis of adhering to the 1992 consensus and opposing Taiwan independence. However, the 1992 consensus that there is one China, with each side having its own interpretation of what it means, has been rejected by Ms Tsai since she first took office in 2016. At a Saturday night press conference, she did not mention the consensus. But she demanded - as two of the conditions for positive cross-strait interactions and stable development of ties - that China abandon threats of force and recognise Taiwan as a separate political entity. In an ominous indication of what might come, she also said that Taiwan would establish national defence capabilities to ensure its security.
Having won a new mandate based on a campaign that stresses a strong stance against pressures from China, Ms Tsai does not have a lot of room for compromise on the issue of sovereignty, analysts have said. She has fought the election on the platform of defending Taiwan's sovereignty and democracy against a China that has intimidated the island militarily and squeezed it diplomatically and economically. Last Saturday, she said Taiwan would not concede to threats and intimidation and rejected the "one country, two systems" model for reunification that was proffered by Chinese President Xi Jinping last January. Mr Xi, for his part, is unlikely to soften his stance on Taiwan. Indeed, pundits suggest that Beijing is likely to harden its policy towards the island.