Cross-strait re­la­tions a chal­lenge with a Tsai pres­i­dency, say of­fi­cials

The China Post - - LOCAL - BY STEPHANIE CHAO

High-ranked na­tional se­cu­rity of­fi­cials painted a pes­simistic pic­ture of Tai­wan’s cross-strait re­la­tions should Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party (DPP) pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Tsai Ing-wen ( ) be­come pres­i­dent next year, lo­cal media re­vealed yesterday.

Na­tional se­cu­rity sources named two cross-strait pol­icy ar­eas that could see new chal­lenges — whether ex­ist­ing and pro­duc­tive talks could carry on be­tween Tai­wan's Straits Ex­change Foun­da­tion (SEF, ) and China's As­so­ci­a­tion for Re­la­tions Across the Tai­wan Straits ( ARATS,

), and whether poli­cies reg­u­lat­ing Chi­nese trav­el­ers would see a change.

Sources say that the num­ber of Chi­nese trav­el­ers would likely drop sig­nif­i­cantly with Tsai’s as­cent to the pres­i­dency — con­tra­dict­ing what Tsai has pre­dicted. She stated months ago that the num­ber of main­land tourists trav­el­ing to Tai­wan would not plum­met if she were to win the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Asked whether Tai­wan would lose its 22 diplo­matic al­lies with a Tsai vic­tory, na­tional se­cu­rity sources sug­gested that main­land China is un­likely to act ini­tially, but once China be­gins con­vert­ing Tai­wan’s al­lies, it would lead to cross-strait re­la­tions crum­bling.

Los­ing its very few al­lies would prove dam­ag­ing for Tai­wanese morale, sources stated and did not rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of bro­ken diplo­matic ties should Tsai be­come pres­i­dent.

Due to the diplo­matic truce be­tween both sides of the Tai­wan Strait, Tai­wan’s for­eign af­fairs bud­get has saved ap­prox­i­mately NT$8 bil­lion on as­sis­tance for al­lies in re­cent years. Sources stated that dur­ing the pe­riod in the past when both China and Tai­wan at­tempted to lure po­ten­tial al­lies un­der their ban­ner, Tai­wan’s at­tempt to buy al­lies to rec­og­nize it of­fi­cially dented its in­ter­na­tional im­age.

For­eign af­fairs of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to the na­tional se­cu­rity sources, ex­pressed their re­lief at be­ing able to main­tain their dig­nity once they could fi­nally say “no” to al­lies’ “un­suit­able de­mands” af­ter Ma Ying-jeou be­came pres­i­dent and for­bade so-called dol­lar diplo­macy.

How­ever, the high-ranked of­fi­cials ad­mit­ted that the sit­u­a­tion could change next year — of­fi­cials stated that main­land China im­me­di­ately de­nied its in­volve­ment in the Gam­bia-Tai­wan rift in 2013.

What con­trib­uted to Tai­wan’s swift cross-strait re­la­tions and for­eign af­fairs re­cov­ery in the post Chen Shui-bian era was Ma’s ac- knowl­edge­ment of the “1992 Con­sen­sus,” which is an un­der­stand­ing that there is but one China, but both Tai­wan and the main­land have a dif­fer­ent in­ter­pre­ta­tion of that un­der­stand­ing. This mended ef­forts and brought on dis­cus­sions with for­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush and main­land China’s Hu Jin­tao, ac­cord­ing to the na­tional se­cu­rity sources.

Tsai Un­mov­able

At an in­vest­ment sum­mit panel, Tsai firmly stood by her crossstrait re­la­tions stance of “main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo.” She has re­it­er­ated the much- bat­tered state­ment and re­fused to men­tion the “1992 Con­sen­sus” to this day, de­spite main­land China’s repet­i­tive warn­ings of un­sta­ble re­la­tions should Tsai fail to ac­knowl­edge the “1992 Con­sen­sus.”

Founder of the pan-green think tank Tai­wan Brain Trust, Koo Kwang-ming ( ) backed up Tsai’s stance, and fore­saw that her stance would prove pos­i­tive for Tai­wan. Koo stated he ex­pects Tai­wan’s for­eign re­la­tions will see a new change, be­com­ing more proac­tive in the fu­ture.

“Main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo is the cor­rect pol­icy,” Tsai reaf­firmed, stat­ing that her stance was backed up by pop­u­lar opin­ion. “That is a con­sen­sus of the Tai­wanese peo­ple.”

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