President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), in her first Double Ten National Day speech, yesterday urged Beijing to face up to the existence of the Republic of China (ROC) and sit down with Taipei for dialogue, while reiterating what some have termed her “new four noes” for cross-strait relations.
“I call upon the authorities of mainland China to face up to the reality that the ROC exists and that the people of Taiwan have an unshakable faith in the democratic system. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait should sit down and talk as soon as possible,” Tsai said from a podium in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei at a ceremony marking the ROC’s 105th birthday.
Despite ups and downs in cross-strait relations in the past months, Tsai said her administration’s position remains the same: No changes in its pledges, no changes in its goodwill, no bowing to pressure and no reversion to the old path of confrontation.
While some political analysts anticipated a certain degree of compromise on the so-called “1992 consensus” in the wake of Beijing’s increased pressure since Tsai took office in May, she did not depart from her previous comments on the issue.
“We respect the historical fact that in 1992, a meeting occurred between the two institutions representing each side across the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits,” she said.
The two sides should cherish the achievements accumulated through decades of interactions and negotiations since 1992, while promoting stable and peaceful cross-strait relations based on existing political foundations, she said.
Tsai also reiterated the promises she made in her May 20 inaugural address to maintain the “status quo” and conduct cross-strait affairs in accordance with the ROC Constitution, the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (兩岸人民關係條例), and other laws.
“I also call on the two governing parties across the Taiwan Strait to set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue for the welfare of people on both sides,” the president said.
Anything conducive to cross-strait peace and the public’s welfare could be included, she said.
The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and Beijing that both sides of the Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means. Former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) said in 2006 that he had made up the term in 2000.
Turning to domestic issues, Tsai said that her belief that “changing the predicament facing young people is changing a nation’s predicament” has been in the center of each reform her administration has initiated.
The government is endeavoring to expand social housing by 80,000 units over the next four years, build a long-term care system, promote a daycare program, reform the pension systems, revitalize the economy and industry, and push for transitional justice to give young people a healthy and diverse democracy, she said.
“Dear fellow citizens: A road of reform is certain to have its ups and downs. However, I call earnestly on all of you, do not let the ups and downs make you lose hope in Taiwan,” she said.
Tsai said she intends to seek mutually beneficial cooperation with allies rather than one-way giving while proactively and steadfastly seeking a space on the world stage.