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China and Taiwan
The following is from the Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece. I present this unedited and will continue to comment separately in my “Week in Review” columns. It’s important to know what the other side is thinking.
Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) head Tsai Ing-wen gave her inauguration speech as the island’s new leader on Friday (May 20). In the 40-minute speech, she mentioned “Taiwan” 41 times, “this country” 13 times and the “Republic of China” five times.
As for the cross-Straits ties, Tsai did not say “1992 Consensus,” nor did she say anything about the two sides belonging to one China, except for some vague references. She only said that the 1992 talks between the two sides reached some common understanding, and she respects the “historical facts.” It seems that she was deliberately ambiguous.
One thing is clear. Tsai’s statement over the foundation of the cross-Straits relations was a big setback compared with her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou, a Kuomintang leader who clearly admitted the 1992 Consensus and one China.
However, she is unlike former Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian, who openly pushed for Taiwan independence.
So, is Tsai a better leader or a worse one?
It is important for the Chinese mainland to get a clearer answer from Tsai concerning one China. This key principle should not be replaced by ambiguous word games. There is no space to back off in this issue. If we give in, Taiwan’s radical forces will believe they can push forward “Taiwanese independence.”
The DPP has a record of not keeping their words before. Even though Tsai said she is going to respect the 1992 fact and that the two sides had reached mutual understandings in a spirit of seeking common ground while setting aside differences, we will see how Tsai and her party do next instead of just listening to her statement.
Tsai said she cherishes the gains that the two sides have made through exchanges in the past 20 years. In fact, the accumulation peaked in the past eight years during Ma’s term.
The institutionalized exchanges and cross-Straits stability contrasted sharply with the situation during Chen’s time in office from 2000-2008
Tsai on Friday also said the ruling parties across the Straits should set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue. She is expecting the Communist Party of China (CPC) to treat the DPP like the Kuomintang.
However, the DPP has not given up its seeking of Taiwan independence. If the CPC conducts inter-party exchanges with the DPP, it will be equal to admitting the legitimacy of “independence.”
Looking back to the past 16 years, we can see that the Taiwan independence forces have become weaker than before. Tsai’s softer stance reflected this change. Whether Tsai will move closer to one China will be largely determined by how much pressure the mainland can put on her.
[Source: Global Times]
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