Tue, Jan 03, 2017 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Dialogue needed, not saber-rattling

Ever since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party won the presidency in January last year, China has been attempting various tactics to force her to accept the so-called “1992 consensus.”

The former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government claims the consensus refers to an understanding reached during cross-strait talks in 1992 that both Taiwan and China acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.

From gimmicks such as blocking Taiwan’s participation at the annual meeting of the World Health Assembly in May last year to tightening controls on the number of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, it comes as no surprise that Beijing has also resorted to intimidation by having the People’s Liberation Army Air Force conduct several training missions that circled Taiwan’s airspace over the past few months.

China, obviously desperate after being rattled by the telephone conversation between Tsai and US president-elect Donald Trump last month — the first time a Taiwanese president has publicly spoken with a US president or president-elect since official diplomatic ties between the two nations were severed in 1979 — ramped up its intimidation by sending a flotilla that skirted Taiwanese waters to the south and cruised past the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) late last month.

Beijing then resumed diplomatic relations with Sao Tome and Principe on Monday last week after the African nation severed its relations with Taiwan just five days previously.

China has also been attempting to coerce the Tsai administration by fining Taiwanese seafood restaurant chain Hai Pa Wang for mislabeling items, while Taiwanese shoemaker Feng Tay Enterprises Co was targeted by China’s Fujian Province tax authorities.

Not short on rhetoric, Beijing also stepped up its verbal threats, with the state-controlled Global Times publishing an editorial saying that China “should arrest a few hardcore Taiwanese independence supporters for violating the ‘Anti-Secession Law’ and have them locked behind bars in China.”

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) on Sunday reiterated the importance of Taiwan accepting the “1992 consensus” as the political foundation for cross-strait development, adding that “any attempt to undermine that foundation would see cross-strait relations return to the turbulence of the past.”

Beijing surely must know that this saber-rattling will not intimidate the government in Taipei nor Taiwanese, but rather arouse even more resentment on the part of the Taiwanese toward China and the fictional consensus conjured up by former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起).

A number of polls have clearly indicated that the majority of Taiwanese either oppose or do not support the “1992 consensus” being the foundation of cross-strait interaction.

Prior to Tsai’s telephone call to Trump, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Institute of Taiwan Studies head Zhou Zhihuai (周志懷) said at an academic forum in China on Nov. 30 that Beijing “does not oppose the idea of the 1992 consensus being substituted by a creative alternative.”

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Katharine Chang (張小月) has since said that the council is working on a new cross-strait policy to replace the “1992 consensus.”

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