Key to cross-strait peace lies in Beijing: President Tsai

02/09/2021 02:31 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) / CNA photo Feb. 9, 2021
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) / CNA photo Feb. 9, 2021

Taipei, Feb. 9 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Tuesday said the key to maintaining peace across the Taiwan Strait lies in the hands of China, but she reiterated her administration's willingness to engage in "meaningful dialogue" with Beijing on equal terms.

Commenting on cross-strait relations during a national security meeting, the president said Taipei is always willing to push for meaningful cross-strait dialogue on the basis of equal footing "as long as Beijing is willing to resolve antagonisms."

Taiwan also hopes that once the COVID-19 pandemic is properly contained, people on both sides of the strait can resume normal exchanges.

She noted, however, that maintaining cross-strait peace is not the responsibility of Taiwan alone as "the key also lies in the hands of China."

"History has shown that flexing military muscles toward Taiwan will do little to help improve cross-strait relations," she said, referring to China's continuous deployment of military aircraft in Taiwan's air defense identification zone and across the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

As the Chinese-speaking world is about to celebrate the annual Lunar New Year holiday, Tsai also wished China's people a happy new year while calling on both sides to jointly promote cross-strait peace and stability.

Tsai made the comments during a pre-Lunar New Year meeting of senior national security officials held in the Presidential Office Tuesday morning, according to an office press release.

In that same meeting, the president said Taiwan's relations with its most important ally, the United States, have remained solid despite the change in U.S. administrations last month.

Her national security team will be working closely with the new Joe Biden administration to enhance bilateral exchanges on various fronts, especially on trade, she said.

Beijing has taken a hardline stance on cross-strait relations and cut off dialogue with Taiwan since Tsai took office in May 2016 and refused to accept the "1992 consensus," which underpinned better relations between Taiwan and China under Tsai's predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), from 2008 to 2016.

The tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then-KMT government and the Chinese government is interpreted by the KMT as both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledging there is only "one China" with each free to interpret what "China" means.

Tsai's ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), however, has contended that the consensus is "a mere illusion" because China does not recognize the idea that each side is free to interpret "one China" as it sees fit.

(By Matt Yu, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Joseph Yeh)

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