Thu, Feb 21, 2019 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Tsai showing the way forward

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has confirmed that she is to seek re-election.

Despite the bruising defeat the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered in the local elections in November last year, followed by her stepping down as party chairperson, criticism within the DPP and calls not to seek another term from independence advocates, Tsai said she is confident of her prospects.

Fears of a defeat for the DPP in next year’s presidential election are legitimate, as the alternative — a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) victory — would be calamitous for Taiwan, in the sense of its continued existence as a sovereign nation, as opposed to its demotion to a province of China that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) erroneously insists that it is.

Given the increasing pressure and rhetoric from Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and the groundwork laid by the previous KMT administration led by former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), there is a strong case to argue that this presidential election will be more consequential than previous ones.

Xi and the CCP insist upon acceptance of the so-called “1992 consensus” and the “one China” principle as prerequisites for cross-strait negotiations. The KMT’s acquiescence to this prerequisite, and Tsai’s refusal to accept the “1992 consensus,” are pivotal to the direction in which cross-strait relations will go following the election.

An article published in a pro-Beijing Chinese-language media outlet announcing Tsai’s confirmation of her decision to stand for a second term was titled: “Tsai to seek re-election, despite Beijing’s opposition.” That was met with outrage from certain quarters, including DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) who questioned, in a Facebook post, when Taiwan started caring about Beijing’s approval of the nation’s president.

Former KMT chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) has already declared his intention to vie for the KMT nomination for president, as has Sun Yat-sen School president Chang Ya-chung (張亞中). Chang favors seeking a peace treaty with Beijing, based upon “one China, with each side having its own constitutional government,” and has said that it would be quite natural to explore the option of unification.

KMT Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) has said he would announce his decision before July. Regardless, as chairman, he has already talked about signing a peace treaty with China, an idea first broached by Ma, with whom Wu previously served as vice president.

Political commentator Wu Tsu-chia (吳子嘉) has suggested that Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), still riding the “Han tide” that swept him to power in November, would seek the KMT presidential nomination. Given his popularity, especially compared with Tsai’s, that would be a formidable proposition. However, comparing an incumbent president midway through their first term and a political rookie at the beginning of theirs is a risky thing to do in politics.

On Sunday night, Han criticized Tsai in a Facebook post, calling into question her mental faculties for “abandoning the China market” and reiterating that the “1992 consensus” is the “magic wand” of cross-strait relations.

If Tsai rejected the “1992 consensus” and the Republic of China, but held back on declaring independence for the country, “I would ask her in which direction the country is to go,” Han said.

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