The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday reminded current and former US officials to carefully avoid violating the US principle of promoting democracy diplomatically when commenting on Taiwan’s elections, while reassuring the US that the DPP would do its best to maintain peace and stability in cross-strait relations.
DPP Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) issued a statement in response to remarks made by former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) managing director Barbara Schrage in Washington on Friday about DPP Chairperson and prospective presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) cross-strait policy.
Schrage told a conference on US-Taiwan relations hosted by the Heritage Foundation that Tsai was unable to clarify Washington’s doubts about her China policy when she visited the US in September 2011 as the DPP’s candidate for the 2012 presidential election, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported.
“What the administration wanted to hear was what was her specific plan for dealing with the cross-strait issue, and frankly she was very disappointing in that area,” CNA quoted Schrage as saying.
Schrage retired in January last year from the position she had held since 2006.
If Tsai cannot present something new this time, she will not be able to pass the test easily, Schrage said, according to the CNA report.
Tsai has recently confirmed an upcoming trip to Washington.
Schrage said that the DPP does not necessarily have to accept the so-called “1992 consensus,” but it should find ways to narrow its differences with Beijing.
The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledge that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” is.
The DPP does not accept the “1992 consensus,” viewing it as what it describes as the KMT’s wishful thinking, since Beijing has never officially accepted the existence of the “Republic of China” in the KMT’s version of “one China.”
“The important thing, I think, is that the DPP demonstrates that it understands the seriousness of the issue, that it cannot simply duck the issue, and that it tries to find ways to come up with a formula that will meet — to some extent — the concerns of China, the concerns of the United States and the concerns of the people of Taiwan, who clearly favor stability,” CNA quoted Schrage as saying.
Tsai needs to let people know in advance how she will deal with cross-strait relations if elected, Schrage added.
Schrage’s remarks fed widespread media coverage yesterday in Taiwan and caused the DPP to contact the US to ask for clarification.
The US told the party that Schrage is not authorized by the US government to make such comments, so her remarks reflected her personal views, Wu said.
The DPP hopes that what Schrage has said “would not be wrongfully interpreted in any way to influence democratic elections in Taiwan,” Wu said.
In an apparent bid to dismiss some media reports that Schrage was perceived as conveying a message from US government to Tsai, Wu yesterday said the DPP has various formal channels of communication with the US through which both sides exchange views and discuss issues without hindrance.
“It is absolutely unnecessary that the US send messages [to the DPP] through such a channel that is not at all authoritative,” Wu said.