Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candiate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) expressed confidence yesterday that cross-strait relations would move forward within a strong framework of interaction if she is elected.
During a visit to Kinmen, the DPP chairperson reiterated her initiative of the formulation of a “Taiwan consensus” as a crucial step toward rebuilding trust and eliminating internal division before negotiating with Beijing under the principles of “democracy, reciprocity and peace.”
The outlying island was an ideal place to explain her cross-strait policy to her doubters, Tsai said, as she had established the “small three links” in January 2001 during her tenure as Mainland Affairs Council chairperson.
The small three links, which allow limited transportation, postal and trade exchanges between Xiamen, Mawei and Quanzhou in China’s Fujian Province and the islands of Kinmen and Matsu, is regarded as the first step of the eventual three links that liberalized cross-strait activities.
The number of travelers using the links went from 21,000 in 2001 to 1.6 million this year, she said, adding that the increase showed how far cross-strait engagement has come.
Contrary to what most people believe, Tsai said, the DPP has never been a party that has refused to talk to China.
After the links, the DPP quickly initiated one of the largest changes to cross-strait regulations to date when it amended the Act Governing Relations Between The People Of The Taiwan Area And The Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例), she said.
The DPP administration also laid the groundwork for the liberalization of bilateral trade and direct charter flights, she added.
“Those were the DPP’s efforts, to try to lay down the foundations for normal and peaceful exchanges across the Taiwan Strait and we always did them using a democratic process, so that the policy would not be altered because of a change of policymakers or government,” Tsai said.
If elected, Tsai said her administration would leverage on the small three links to boost the local economy and create jobs by attracting more tourists.
Medical and water resources are the top priority for Kinmen residents, Tsai said, adding that it would be possible to source water from China if the preconditions of supplementary supply, national security and water safety are met.