Taiwan's new China affairs head pledges to break cross-strait impasse

02/23/2021 12:43 PM
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New Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) head Chiu Tai-san (邱太三)
New Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) head Chiu Tai-san (邱太三)

Taipei, Feb. 23 (CNA) Taiwan's new top China affairs chief pledged during his swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday to do his best to break the impasse with China without sacrificing the nation's sovereignty, but offered no specifics on how he planned to achieve that.

New Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) head Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said in his address that the Taiwanese and Chinese people are anxiously hoping that they can resume normal exchanges once the COVID-19 pandemic is properly contained.

Chiu pledged to do his best to meet people's expectations to end the cross-Taiwan Strait standoff and improve two-way ties while upholding Taiwan's sovereignty and democratic system during his tenure.

Chiu was sworn in to succeed his predecessor Chen Ming-tong (陳明通), who was named the new head of the National Security Bureau (NSB).

The 64-year-old former lawmaker and government prosecutor served as President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) minister of justice from 2016 to 2018 and held the number two post at the MAC from 2004 to 2005 in a previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.

His appointment was part of a reshuffle of three Cabinet-level officials announced by the Presidential Office on Friday, involving changes to the leaders of the Ministry of National Defense, the NSB and the MAC.

Taiwanese scholar Chao Chun-shan (趙春山) previously said the appointment of Chiu could be seen as a friendly gesture from Taipei to Beijing, as Chiu is known to be dovish in his approach to cross-strait issues.

But how far such a symbol will go in breaking the ice is debatable, considering the core positions of the two governments.

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.

Tsai's administration has taken a strong anti-China line domestically and moved aggressively to tighten relations with the United States on security and diplomatic issues.

The consensus, supposedly 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 DPP, however, has contended that the consensus never existed to begin with and is "a mere illusion" because China does not recognize the idea that each side is free to interpret "one China" as it sees fit.

Asked to comment on the "1992 consensus," Chiu said Tuesday that Beijing's version of the so-called consensus focuses on the "one-China" part of the formula, which sees Taiwan as part of the People's Republic of China, "which is unacceptable to Taiwan's people."

Beijing's continuous insistence on upholding the "1992 consensus" and the "one-China Principle" as the basis for official cross-strait exchanges is detrimental to Taiwan-China relations, he said.

He called on China's government to "be more practical" in pushing for cross-strait interactions to enhance mutual trust.

(By Lai Yen-hsi and Joseph Yeh)

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