President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inaugural address emphasized regional and cross-strait stability, active participation in international trade deals and deepening relationships with democracies such as the US, Japan and European nations, academics said, adding that Tsai was sending a message to Washington and Tokyo, calling on them to take Taiwan more seriously.
Taiwan Association of University Professors secretary-general Hsu Wen-tang (許文堂) — commenting on Tsai not affirming the so-called “1992 consensus” — said there were indeed talks between then-chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) and then-chairman of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Wang Daohan (汪道涵), and that is why Tsai said the cross-strait interaction of the time is a “historical fact.”
However, the term “1992 consensus,” coined by former Mainland Affairs Council chairman Su Chi (蘇起) for then-president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) use, is fake, and mostly not accepted by Taiwanese, Hsu said.
“Tsai’s phrasing of the cross-strait relationship [in the speech] was intended to not allow China room to make a fuss,” Hsu said.
The “1992 consensus” refers to a tacit understanding between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese government that both sides of the Strait acknowledge there is “one China,” with each side having its own interpretation of what “China” means.
Hsu said Tsai’s message that she intended to further develop relationships with the US, Japan and European countries and cooperate with them based on common values was a call to the international community and democracies around the world to see Taiwan as a crucial partner.
Tsai stressed the Republic of China’s constitutional order as a message to China that there is no room to bargain over sovereignty, Hsu said, adding that Tsai is also expected to bolster cooperation with the US in the South China Sea and uphold freedom of navigation in those waters.
Chen Mu-min (陳牧民), chairman of the Graduate Institute of International Politics at National Chung Hsing University, said the highlight of the diplomatic policies in Tsai’s speech was the importance placed on Taiwan’s connections with the international community.
While former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) emphasized “Taiwanese consciousness” and Ma focused on cross-strait peace, the new government has shown that it plans to improve ties in the region by participating in Asia-Pacific activities and building an economic community to scale the nation’s economy upward, Chen Mu-min said.
Tsai highlighted that Taiwan would be a staunch guardian of regional peace while deepening its relationship with the US and Japan based on the universal values of peace, democracy, liberty and human rights, Chen Mu-min said.
“She also asserted that Taiwan would not be a troublemaker in the South and East China seas,” he said.
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