China must rethink its hardline stance toward Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a BBC interview that aired yesterday, adding that the nation is already independent and that any invasion would be “very costly” for Beijing.
Tsai on Saturday last week won a second term with a record 8.2 million votes, an outcome that was seen as a forceful rebuke of China’s ongoing campaign to isolate the nation.
In her first interview since her re-election, Tsai told the BBC that there was no need to formally announce independence because the nation already runs itself.
Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times
“We don’t have a need to declare ourselves an independent state,” she said. “We are an independent country already and we call ourselves the Republic of China, Taiwan.”
“We have a separate identity and we’re a country of our own. We deserve respect from China,” Tsai said.
In the interview, which came as the nation held annual military drills in southern Taiwan, Tsai warned Beijing against sending in troops.
“Invading Taiwan is something that is going to be very costly for China,” she said.
Critics accuse Tsai of being needlessly antagonistic toward Beijing, but Tsai said that she had resisted pressure from within her own party to be more forceful on the issue of independence.
“There are so many pressures, so much pressure here that we should go further,” she said.
“Maintaining a ‘status quo’ remains our policy... I think that is a very friendly gesture to China.”
Tsai has repeatedly said that she is willing to talk to Beijing as long as there are no preconditions.
However, Beijing has refused, cutting off official communication with her administration.
Over the past four years, China has also has ramped up economic, military and diplomatic pressure, hoping it would scare voters into supporting the opposition, but its strong-arm tactics backfired with voters resoundingly backing Tsai for another four more years.
China yesterday responded to Tsai’s proposal for positive cross-strait interactions by reaffirming its adherence to the “1992 consensus.”
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said at the first news conference held by the office since Tsai was re-elected that the “1992 consensus” must be adhered to for the development of cross-strait relations.
“Shaking a mountain is easy, rocking the ‘1992 consensus’ is difficult,” Ma added.
In her acceptance speech on Saturday night, Tsai said that peace, parity, democracy and dialogue are the key to positive cross-strait interactions and long-term stable development.
In response, Ma yesterday said that when the Democratic Progressive Party took office in 2016, it refused to recognize the consensus.
This is the root cause of the deterioration in cross-strait relations, he said.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party had since 2005 insisted on bolstering exchanges to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations based on the political foundation of the consensus and opposition to Taiwanese independence, and have achieved good results in this regard, Ma said.
Taiwan’s future lies in unification with China and the well-being of its people in national rejuvenation, Ma said, adding that Taiwanese compatriots are part of the Chinese people and Taiwan’s future should be decided by all Chinese.
The “1992 consensus” — a term former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) in 2006 admitted to making up in 2000 — refers to a tacit understanding between the KMT and the Chinese government that there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
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