People First Party (PFP) Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜) yesterday urged president-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to resort to pragmatism and the middle way in handling cross-strait relations, while shrugging off speculation that he could serve in Tsai’s Cabinet.
Soong made the remarks during a joint news conference with Tsai at the Evergreen Laurel Hotel Taipei yesterday morning, following the pair’s first meeting since the Jan. 16 presidential election.
The two exchanged views on several issues, such as the pension system, education and judicial reform.
“Both in our meeting today and one that took place about a year ago, I urged Tsai to adopt pragmatism and the middle way when dealing with cross-strait ties. I told her only such an approach would be representative of mainstream public opinion,” Soong said when asked whether cross-strait issues were brought up at yesterday’s meeting.
Soong said resorting to separatist or hardline cross-strait policies could have serious ramifications, which is why he advised Tsai to make the Republic of China (ROC) the “greatest common denominator” and to seek mutual interests based on the ROC constitutional system.
Praising Tsai for her pledge to maintain the “status quo” between Taipei and Beijing, Soong said some things cannot be rushed and that both sides of the Taiwan Strait should endeavor to adhere to their shared core value: peace.
He also called on Tsai to ensure the continuation of peace, freedom and the democratic system.
“I appreciate Soong’s concerns over cross-strait ties... I believe the pragmatism Soong looks for will be the social consensus we hope to consolidate,” Tsai said.
With Soong long a champion of a cross-party coalition government, reporters asked whether the PFP chairman was offered a post in Tsai’s Cabinet.
“We did not touch upon any issues regarding individuals... What we should do is to find a way forward for Taiwan, rather than for a specific party or individual,” Soong said, a reference to his presidential campaign slogan: “Let us find a way forward together.”
However, Soong said that he advised Tsai at the meeting to avoid “narrowing,” whether in her policymaking process, selection of personnel, or distribution of government resources.
Tsai also denied speculation that the makeup of her Cabinet was discussed at the meeting.
“Chairman Soong and I have reached a consensus that we will see each other fairly often in the future,” Tsai said.
Soong showed a government document dated 1949 that belonged to his father, which detailed how the 500,000-strong Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) army came to Taiwan at the time.
“If it were not for those soldiers and their efforts to safeguard Taiwan’s freedoms and security, the ROC would not have survived. We must show our deepest gratitude to those men,” Soong said.
Nearly 2 million people made the journey from China to Taiwan with the KMT regime that year, marking one of the largest migrations in human history, Soong said.
Those migrants arrived without a single grain of rice, but they were fed by Taiwanese, Soong said, urging continued tolerance and protection of freedom and democracy.
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