The Presidential Office yesterday issued a statement saying Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) proposal to merely establish a communication channel with China would “set cross-strait ties back by 10,000 steps.”
Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信) — in a statement that is about 2,000 words long — criticized the policies Tsai mentioned in her closing remarks at Saturday’s televised presidential debate as “preposterous” and “indicative of the DPP chairperson’s unawareness of where and in what year she was in.”
Tsai on Saturday said that she would push for reforms and national unity by establishing four mechanisms, including one that would serve as a communication channel through which Taiwan could forge mutual understanding with China and other nations.
The other three mechanisms would be facilitate cross-party negotiations, industrial adjustments and pension reforms, Tsai said.
“Under President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) term in office over the past seven-and-a-half years, dramatic progresses have been made in the institutionalization of cross-strait communications,” Chen said.
Only 22 days after Ma took office in 2008, Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) resumed their institutionalized negotiations after a 10-year hiatus, Chen said.
Also, 11 meetings and 23 cross-strait agreements have been made between SEF and ARATS under Ma’s governance, as well as seven meetings between the heads of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, where they addressed each other by their official titles, he said.
“Ma’s achievements in cross-strait relations culminated on Nov. 7 last year in a landmark meeting between Ma and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore, which drew global attention and worldwide recognition,” Chen said.
A telephone hotline connecting Taiwan’s and China’s heads of cross-strait affairs on Wednesday came into effect, fulfilling one of the agreements reached at the Ma-Xi meeting, he said.
“We have never thought chairperson Tsai was planning to take 10,000 steps back in cross-strait relations, as evidenced by her proposal that shows she only intends to create a communication channel with China,” Chen said.
He suspected that if elected president, Tsai would close all official cross-strait communication channels and establish one outside the system, Chen said.
Such an approach could result in cross-strait ties being returned to their levels in 2000, when exchanges between both sides of the Taiwan Strait were suspended and direct flights across the straight were few, Chen said.
“Chairperson Tsai, if you set cross-strait relations back after the Jan. 16 elections, how could you ever deliver your campaign promise to maintain the ‘status quo’?” Chen asked.
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