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President urges Beijing to respect Taiwanese public opinion

2017/05/19 15:24:49

Taipei, May 19 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday urged Beijing to "correctly understand" the meaning of last year's presidential election in Taiwan and what she described as the "good will" demonstrated repeatedly by Taiwan over the past year.

"This is a new era, because the Taiwanese people say so," said Tsai, who led her pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party back to power with a vote share of 56 percent in the Jan. 16, 2016 poll, defeating her main rival Eric Chu (朱立倫) of the then-ruling Kuomintang, who garnered 31 percent.

"The old questions should be let go to give way to new ones. The new issue is how the leaders of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can jointly maintain cross-strait peace and prosperity," she said during a meeting with a delegation of overseas Chinese media representatives on the eve of her first anniversary in office.

She reiterated that maintaining the status quo of cross-strait relations is the policy followed by her administration and that the commitments she has made in this regard remain unchanged.

The president's remarks were an apparent reference to Beijing's comment last year that her inauguration speech was "an incomplete test paper."

Beijing is dissatisfied that Tsai refuses to explicitly recognize the "1992 consensus," which essentially implies that China and Taiwan are part of "one China," unlike her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT. In her inauguration speech, Tsai only went so far as to say that she respects the historic fact that the cross-strait talks took place and that some understandings were reached.

In what is seen as a way to pressure Tsai to comply, China has suspended dialogue with Taiwan and has withdrawn its endorsement of Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly as an observer and in the International Civil Aviation Organization.

In her Friday statement, Tsai also outlined the progress of her promises to transform Taiwan's economic structure, improve Taiwan's social security network, uphold social justice and fairness, and promote the country's foreign relations.

On economic transformation, plans to promote "five plus two" innovative industries have gone underway, and the government has also introduced a "forward-looking infrastructure development plan," she said.

On social security, the "long-term care program 2.0" has been launched, and efforts to amend laws crucial for pension reform have entered their final stage in the Legislative Yuan, she said.

On social justice and fairness, a committee has been set up under the Presidential Office to promote transitional justice for indigenous people, and the government is currently organizing a national conference on judicial reform, according to the president.

Also, efforts to recover assets improperly obtained by the KMT and to declassify files from the authoritarian era have produced results, she said.

On foreign relations, the president said her two visits to Central and South America have helped strengthen Taiwan's relations with its diplomatic allies in that region.

Taiwan's relations with Japan have also been moving forward, as seen in the renaming of the semi-official Association of East Asian Relations (亞東關係協會) as the Association of Taiwan-Japan Relations (台灣日本闗係協會), she said.

Over the past year, visitors from Southeast Asia have seen a significant increase, a sign that the government's New Southbound Policy is showing results, she said.

The president said that public dissatisfaction with her performance, as seen in surveys conducted recently, is "a price that must be paid" for promoting reforms.

"I chose to push for the most difficult reforms in my first term and my first year in office. None of my predecessors would have done such a thing," she said.

Tsai said she will not give up on her endeavor, because those reforms are what the past several presidents wanted to achieve but could not.

Over the past year, the government's main focus has been converting its ideals and values into substantive policy blueprints and plans, she said, adding that the most important goal for the coming year is to implement the plans.

(By Sophia Yeh and Y.F. Low)