Wed, Jun 08, 2016 - Page 8 News List

Beijing changing the ‘status quo’

By Parris Chang 張旭成

Before and after her inauguration on May 20, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has repeatedly stated that her new government would continue to promote the stable and peaceful development of cross-strait relations based on existing realities and political foundations.

The careful way Tsai had balanced the conflicting demands of Beijing and her domestic political constituency appeared to meet US expectations, as the US Department of State congratulated Tsai and said in a statement that her inauguration “marks another milestone in the development of Taiwan’s vibrant democracy.”

It added that the US looks forward to “working with the new administration, as well as all of Taiwan’s political parties and civil society groups to further strengthen ties between the people of the US and Taiwan.”

Beijing, on the other hand, was dissatisfied with Tsai’s inaugural address, which did not clearly recognize the so-called “1992 consensus,” nor agree to its core meaning (i.e. the “one China” principle). China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) complained in a statement that Tsai adopted a murky attitude “on the fundamental question of the nature of cross-strait relations that people on the two sides of the [Taiwan] Strait are most concerned about,” and described her speech as “an incomplete test paper.”

Knowingly or otherwise, the TAO has assumed an air of condescension, seeking to bully Taiwan into submission, but to no avail.

Tsai solemnly said: “I was elected president of the Republic of China, thus it is my responsibility to safeguard the sovereignty and territory of the Republic of China.”

In other words, she will never accept Beijing’s demand on Taiwan’s unification with China.

As a matter of fact, a large majority of Taiwanese clearly expressed their views on the cross-strait relationship during the nine-in-one local elections in November 2014 and the presidential and legislative elections in January. Not only did they vote overwhelmingly in favor of ending the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) colonial rule led by then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), they also totally repudiated Beijing’s conspiracy in collusion with its fellow travelers and agents inside the KMT to “liberate” Taiwan peacefully.

In addition to reiterating her pledge to maintain the “status quo” in cross-strait relations, Tsai pointed out to her audience at home and abroad that China is equally responsible. She said that both sides of the Taiwan Strait “must collectively cherish and sustain” the accumulated outcomes of the past 20 years of interactions and negotiations, and that on the basis of “such existing realities and political foundations that the stable and peaceful development of the cross-strait relationship must be continuously promoted.”

To detached observers, Tsai’s crafty and subtle appeal provides a stark contrast to China’s threats to terminate cross-strait contacts and initiate economic sanctions, and the military saber-rattling along the Taiwan Strait, might have put Beijing on the defensive. Unable to effectively respond to Tsai’s sophisticated challenge, Beijing has instead resorted to personal attack.

On May 24, Wang Weixing (王衛星), an analyst at Beijing’s Academy of Military Science and a board member of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, published an article in the International Herald Leader, a newspaper affiliated with Xinhua news agency, to attack Tsai personally. The article criticized Tsai for being “extreme” and “emotional,” because she is unmarried and lacks the “burden of love, family and children.”

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