Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) arrived in Washington on Tuesday to reassure the US government there would be “no surprises” from president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文).
“Going forward, we will do our utmost to find a mutually acceptable mode of interaction between Taiwan and the mainland,” Wu told a briefing session at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank.
He is expected to hold talks this week with US Department of State Assistant Secretary for East Asia Danny Russel, National Security Council Asia Director Daniel Kritenbrink and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia Abraham Denmark.
Wu is also scheduled to hold talks with members of the US Congress and think tank staffers.
He is likely to be asked about Tsai’s refusal to bow to Chinese demands to accept the so-called “1992 consensus.”
“The DPP has never denied the historical fact of the cross-strait dialogues that took place in 1992,” Wu said in his CSIS address.
“As for the specific phraseology of the ‘1992 consensus’ created by the KMT [Chinese Nationalist Party] in the year 2000, Dr Tsai advocates a return to the original spirit of setting aside differences to seek common ground that formed the basis of the 1992 cross-strait meetings,” he said.
Wu said that Taiwan’s new government would avoid confrontation and prevent surprises.
“We will, in the new session of the legislature, put forward the cross-strait agreement oversight legislation as a priority to highlight our interest in peaceful and stable relations with China,” he said.
Wu told his audience that the DPP presidential election victory on Saturday was not just about cross-strait relations and the sovereignty issue, but more about the economic situation, food safety, long-term care, income distribution, housing costs and pension reform.
He said the DPP’s overwhelming victory reflected young voters discontent with the KMT, with the performance of local administrations and the DPP’s balanced position on controversial issues.
Wu warned against interpreting the election result as a defeat for China.
“Neither the presidential candidate herself nor the entire DPP campaign team targeted China in any campaign rhetoric or slogans,” he said.
China’s reaction to the election results have been measured and “relatively reserved” Wu said, adding: “It would be inaccurate to interpret the election as China’s defeat.”
Wu said the DPP believed that a mood of reconciliation was critical during the transition period to shift away from green-blue confrontation.
“The long transition until the inauguration on May 20 is a challenge to Taiwan, but it might also present an opportunity for the nation to heal the wound of the long years of political dogfighting,” he said.
Wu said the party would take a low-key and “surprise-free” posture, and make meaningful contributions to the needs of the international community, including China, and a moderate and careful approach toward Beijing would be pursued.
However, improving relations with China would not come at the cost of Taiwan’s relations with the broader international community, he said.
He said the new administration would “rigorously pursue” participation in the second round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal negotiations and seek inclusion in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Wu said that relations with the US would be of “utmost importance” and that the DPP would try to improve economic, security and political ties.
The party would also try to reform legal infrastructure and make the necessary structural adjustments for Taiwan to gain entry into the TPP, Wu said.
“We will increase investment in the defense budget proportionate to Taiwan’s economic growth, particularly increasing investment in Taiwan’s indigenous defense programs for self-defense,” he said.
“We will adopt a consistent and predictable policy agenda with the US so that Taiwan can be regarded as a trustworthy strategic partner that makes a meaningful contribution to US global operations,” he added.
Answering questions from the audience, Wu denied reports that he would be negotiating Taiwan’s trade problems with the US over the import of US pork products.
If China tried to block Taiwan from entering the TPP, it would not be conducive to peaceful and stable relations and that the DPP hoped that the US would help to overcome any objections from Beijing, he said.
Tsai appointed Wu to serve as the DPP’s respresentative to the US in 2012. He served as Taiwan’s representative to the US during former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration.
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