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Tsai rejects supposed deadline for accepting '1992 consensus' (update)

2016/07/22 14:00:15

Taipei, July 22 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that she has done her best to narrow her government's differences with China and rejected a supposed deadline for Taiwan to accept a precondition laid out by Beijing for the continuation of relatively warm ties across the Taiwan Strait.

In an interview with the Washington Post earlier this week, Tsai was asked if it is true, as some academics have suggested, that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has set a deadline by which he wants her to agree to the so-called "1992 consensus."

"As a national leader, Chairman Xi should be able to make a good decision, a correct decision after taking into account all factors of a situation," Tsai said, according to a transcript released by the Presidential Office Friday.

"Taiwan is a highly democratic place, where the trend of public opinion is very important," the president said. "So the chances are actually not high for Taiwan to accept a deadline to meet some conditions laid out by the other side against the will of the people."

"I believe they must know that, too," Tsai said, referring to the Chinese leadership.

Liu Guoshen (劉國深), head of Xiamen University's Taiwan Research Institute, told CNA Friday that he has "never heard any talk of a deadline."

The 1992 consensus refers to a tacit agreement following talks in Hong Kong in 1992 between China and Taiwan's Kuomintang government that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait agree there is only one China but each side is free to interpret what it means.

The agreement on the concept of one China paved the way for improved cross-strait ties during President Ma Ying-jeou's two terms of office that lasted until two months ago. Tsai's pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party has never accepted the 1992 consensus.

Asked by Lally Weymouth, a senior associate editor of the Post, about her impression of Xi, Tsai praised Xi for tackling corruption, before adding that she hopes the Chinese leader will show "a bit more flexibility in dealing with cross-strait relations."

"I hope that he can appreciate that Taiwan is a democratic society in which the leader has to follow the will of the people," she said.

As for how she plans to handle relations with Beijing after the Chinese cut off their official communication channel with Taiwan following her inauguration, Tsai told the Post that there have always been diverse channels of communication across the strait, including official channels and people-to-people contacts.

She said that she did her best in her inaugural speech to minimize the differences between the positions of the two sides of the strait, and she believes that the Chinese realize the goodwill contained in her May 20 speech.

In addition to the Republic of China (Taiwan) constitution, which defines the nation's territory as encompassing the mainland, Tsai also referred to a law that specifically describes the relationship between Taiwan and China as one between two territories rather than states.

Tsai added that Taiwan has handled its relations with China "very carefully" since her government was sworn in.

"We do not take provocative measures, we make sure that there are no surprises, and we hope that through channels of communication, we can gradually build up trust," she said.

During the interview, Weymouth also asked Tsai if she is concerned that China would threaten to weaken the relationships between Taiwan and its diplomatic allies, and the president replied that if China does take economic measures to pressure Taiwan, "they will have to think about the price that they are going to pay" because neighboring countries will be looking carefully at how China treats Taiwan.

When asked if it is unfair that Taiwan is not recognized in the world, Tsai said simply, "it is indeed unfair."

The president also told the Post that people of different generations and ethnic origins in Taiwan have different views about China, "but they all agree on one thing. That is democracy."

On questions about the economy, Tsai said Taiwan's economy needs to undergo structural adjustments, adding that the new economic model focuses on innovation and research -- a departure from the focus on manufacturing in the past.

She also noted that the complementarity between Taiwan's and China's economies has decreased, with labor costs rising and manufacturing capabilities improving in China.

"They are more and more our competitors," she said.

(By Christie Chen)
ENDITEM/jc

●Note:
The links to the full text of the interview as released by the Presidential Office and the Washington Post's edited excerpts are as follows:

http://www.president.gov.tw/Default.aspx?tabid=131&itemid=37751&rmid=514

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2016/07/21/44b0a1a4-4e25-11e6-a422-83ab49ed5e6a_story.html