Wed, Oct 05, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Tsai lauds bilateral relations in Tokyo

BEST OF FRIENDS:The DPP chairperson emphasized four elements in the nation’s ‘special relationship’ with Japan: security, democracy, economy, and trade and travel

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen makes a speech during a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo yestserday.

Photo: AFP

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday highlighted the US-Japan security pact as the cornerstone of stability in East Asia and the DPP’s wish to strengthen Taiwan’s relations with Japan in a speech in Tokyo.

Japan “continues to occupy a special place in the emotions of the Taiwanese people,” the DPP’s presidential candidate told the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.

Tsai, who is in the middle of a three-day visit to Japan, emphasized four elements in Taiwan’s relationship with Japan: security, democracy, economy, and trade and travel, as well as other areas of interaction.

While Taiwan is not a formal partner in the Japan-US Security Alliance, Tsai said she believes it is important to “involve all parties, to communicate and dialogue, to manage territorial disputes in a peaceful and rational way, to ensure the freedom of navigation and to enhance transparency in military modernization” in the “cornerstone of peace and stability in East Asia.”

Closer economic ties with Japan would also help to prevent further marginalization and over-dependence on China economically, Tsai said, adding that it would be mutually beneficial if Taiwan were to join the APEC-based free-trade agreement or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

She said that Taiwan and Japan share similar social and political challenges, such as the dominance of social and economic issues as key domestic themes and anti-nuclear awareness following the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant in March.

She went on to detail her initiative of a “Taiwan consensus” — the starting point of her policy on China — highlighting it as an inclusive, democratic process.

Future Taiwan-China engagement should be based on a “new foundation” which is inclusive, she said,

Ultimately the DPP wants to ensure that “the right to determine Taiwan’s future rests in the hands of the people of Taiwan, and any change to the status quo must be agreed by the people of Taiwan through democratic means,” she said.

Any precondition for dialogue that is not transparent and not in line with the democratic consensus of Taiwanese would not be sufficient to deal with the complexities of the cross-strait relationship, Tsai said.

The DPP is not naive about the differences across the Strait, she said, but cross-strait engagement would not be a zero-sum game “as long as both sides are sincere about building a peaceful and stable framework for interaction.”

Tsai said her victory in the January presidential election over President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would be “a demonstration of the progressiveness and openness of Taiwan’s society.”

In a speech to overseas Taiwanese on Monday, Tsai described the affinity and solid relations between Taiwanese and Japanese over the years as being a form of “Taiwan consensus.”

The DPP’s two main policies are that a “Taiwan consensus” is needed for Taiwan to develop its external relations, in particular relations with China, while domestically, social harmony and consolidation should be in place before the implementation of economic reforms, she said.

In response to a question from a Japanese student about a “Taiwan identity,” Tsai said that it is important to have a balanced education system so that people can be proud of being Taiwanese.

Being Taiwanese or Chinese is an option; it does not depend on ethnicity, social status or one’s educational background, she said, adding: “If people are proud of being Taiwanese, then they have Taiwanese identity in mind.”

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