Tai­wan pres­i­dent says he won’t bow to Bei­jing, calls for talks Re­marks likely to fur­ther anger China

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Tai­wan’s new pres­i­dent, Tsai Ing-wen, said yes­ter­day her self-ruled is­land will not bow to Chi­nese pres­sure and that Bei­jing should rec­og­nize her govern­ment’s ex­is­tence and en­gage with it in talks, in re­marks likely to fur­ther anger China. Speak­ing in a Na­tional Day ad­dress, Tsai ac­knowl­edged that ties be­tween Tai­wan and China have been bumpy in re­cent months. “But we will not bow to pres­sure, and we will of course not re­vert to the old path of con­fronta­tion,” she said at a cer­e­mony out­side the Pres­i­den­tial Of­fice Build­ing in cen­tral Taipei at­tended by 11,000 peo­ple, in­clud­ing more than 360 for­eign guests.

China should “face up to the real­ity” of the Tai­wanese govern­ment’s ex­is­tence and of the is­land’s democ­racy, Tsai said, adding that the two sides should “sit down and talk as soon as pos­si­ble.”

China claims Tai­wan is its own ter­ri­tory, to be brought un­der its con­trol by force if nec­es­sary. Tsai’s elec­tion in Jan­uary up­ended Bei­jing’s strat­egy of us­ing eco­nomic in­duce­ments to con­vince Tai­wanese that po­lit­i­cal uni­fi­ca­tion is not only in­evitable but also in their best in­ter­ests.

Tsai said her govern­ment wants to main­tain the sta­tus quo, re­fer­ring to the state of tense but sta­ble peace and ro­bust eco­nomic ex­changes be­tween the sides, which split dur­ing China’s civil war in 1949. China has said it isn’t sat­is­fied with that po­si­tion and de­mands she en­dorse Bei­jing’s for­mu­la­tion that the two are part of a sin­gle Chi­nese na­tion. That for­mula was em­braced by her pre­de­ces­sor, Ma Ying-jeou, who was seated on the stage at the cer­e­mony.

Tsai’s re­luc­tance to do so, and risk alien­at­ing her party’s sup­port­ers, clashes with her hopes for re­newed talks be­tween the sides that Bei­jing cut off shortly after her May in­au­gu­ra­tion, said Liu Yi-jiun, a pro­fes­sor of pub­lic af­fairs at Tai­wan’s Fo Guang Univer­sity. “So far I just don’t see any­thing hap­pen­ing at this time,” Liu said. “(Tsai) re­ally wants her coun­ter­parts to sit down and find some so­lu­tion. That’s some­thing pos­i­tive. But I don’t think th­ese kinds of words will turn the sit­u­a­tion around.”

China ‘will carry on’

Whether Tai­wan’s pub­lic likes the speech is hard to say be­cause it cov­ers “noth­ing new,” Liu said, adding that China “will just carry on.”

Tsai’s ref­er­ence to the need to main­tain progress since a break­through meet­ing in 1992 be­tween the sides, and her use of Tai­wan’s of­fi­cial name, the Re­pub­lic of China, could be seen by Bei­jing as a pos­i­tive sign that she in­tends no rad­i­cal moves to­ward for­mal in­de­pen­dence, said Nathan Liu, an in­ter­na­tional af­fairs pro­fes­sor at Ming Chuan Univer­sity in Taipei.

If China in­stead in­sists on main­tain­ing the cur­rent stale­mate, “that’s not go­ing to help,” he said. Re­spond­ing to Tsai’s re­marks, a spokesman for China’s Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice said Bei­jing would not budge from its fun­da­men­tal de­mands and would op­pose and con­tain any steps to­ward Tai­wanese in­de­pen­dence. Spokesman An Feng­shan said in a state­ment that talks can only pro­ceed on the ba­sis of the for­mu­la­tion Bei­jing calls the “92 consensus” that rec­og­nizes Tai­wan and China as part of a sin­gle Chi­nese na­tion.

Re­ject­ing that prin­ci­ple is an “evil road that goes nowhere,” An said. “There is no force that can block the his­tor­i­cal stride of na­tional uni­fi­ca­tion and the re­vi­tal­iza­tion of the peo­ple,” he said. Tai­wan prison au­thor­i­ties de­clined to let exTai­wanese Pres­i­dent Chen Shui-bian out of house ar­rest to at­tend the event. Chen, elected to of­fice in 2000 as the can­di­date of Tsai’s Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party, is serv­ing a sen­tence for cor­rup­tion. China de­spised Chen for his pursuit of greater in­de­pen­dence for Tai­wan.

For­ma­tions of troops dur­ing yes­ter­day’s cer­e­mony were lighter than in pre­vi­ous years, when large amounts of mil­i­tary hard­ware rolled past the Pres­i­den­tial Of­fice Build­ing in a ges­ture of strength to China. Tsai also dis­cussed plans to strengthen the is­land’s high-tech, ex­port-de­pen­dent econ­omy and im­prove op­por­tu­ni­ties for young peo­ple. —AP

TAIPEI: Stu­dent groups per­form dur­ing Na­tional Day cel­e­bra­tions in front of the Pres­i­den­tial Palace. —AFP

BALI: In­done­sian po­lice of­fi­cers es­cort Bri­tish drug sus­pect David Fox, cen­ter, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence at a po­lice station. —AP

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