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Tsai wants reciprocity, no pre-conditions for a meeting with Xi

2018/05/14 16:58:14

CNA file photo

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) reiterated her position on Monday that she would like to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) based on reciprocity with no political conditions attached.

"The two sides should rebuild basic mutual trust and sit down and talk given the overall international situation," Tsai said in a radio interview ahead of May 20 -- the second anniversary of her presidency.

"Now that South and North Koreas have done so, I think Taiwan and mainland China should also engage in detailed communication," she said.

"Although there have been cross-Taiwan Strait exchanges in the private sector, I think there is a need for the two sides to advance and deepen two-way communication."

Even if Tsai would like a meeting with Xi, Beijing has shown no interest in the idea, having cut off official contacts with Taipei after Tsai took office on May 20, 2016.

It has ratcheted up the pressure on Taiwan both economically and politically since then because Tsai and her ruling Democratic Progressive Party have refused to endorse the "1992 consensus," which Beijing sees as the political foundation for cross-strait exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" refers to the results of the meeting between Taiwan that was then ruled by Kuomintang and Chinese officials in 1992, in which both sides acknowledged that they both belong to one China, but with different interpretations of what that one China stands for.

Asked in the radio interview why she is unwilling to back the "1992 consensus" even while acknowledging that the 1992 meeting took place, Tsai said "we must explore the truth based on facts."

"It is a fact that Taiwan and mainland China held a meeting that year, the results of which were interpreted differently by the two sides," she argued.

"Maybe the '1992 consensus' contains other explanations, but the question is whether Taiwan's people can accept them or whether China can accept the KMT's interpretation?" Tsai said.

"To me, it is an issue that could jeopardize our sovereignty and I will not compromise," she said.

The president, meanwhile, hailed Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德) as an "honest man" when asked whether Lai's description of himself as a "pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence" prompted China's Air Force to send military aircraft on missions to circle around Taiwan in recent months.

She answered that Lai is not somebody who is ill-intentioned or has "other special ideas," and is actually an honest person.

"The mainland should know that Taiwan is a democratic society, and they should understand that different opinions can be aired freely in an open society before a consensus could be forged," she said.

In response to a question about the rising disapproval of her performance as seen in a recent poll, Tsai said it did not bother her because "what counts is whether you have done your best to achieve your goal."

"Many people are trying to pull me back, while others are trying to push ahead, but I must go steadily forward because our reforms have reached their most critical juncture," she said.

According to the results of a United Daily News poll released Monday, 56 percent of respondents disapproved of her performance, up from 50 percent a year ago, while 29 percent approved, down from 30 percent a year ago.

On specific issues, 56 percent of respondents were not satisfied with her performance on cross-strait relations and 62 percent were unhappy with her performance on the economy.

(By Flor Wang)
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