Goodwill pivotal to easing cross-strait tensions: academics

10/10/2021 08:01 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen. CNA photo Oct. 10, 2021
President Tsai Ing-wen. CNA photo Oct. 10, 2021

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) Several domestic China experts on Sunday called on the two sides across the Taiwan Strait to extend goodwill to each other, saying it is crucial for easing cross-strait tensions.

Their remarks came after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) reiterated her support for maintaining the cross-strait status quo in her Republic of China National Day address earlier that day.

"Our position on cross-strait relations remains the same: neither our goodwill nor our commitments will change. We call for maintaining the status quo, and we will do our utmost to prevent the status quo from being unilaterally altered," Tsai said in her address.

"I also want to emphasize that resolving cross-strait differences requires the two sides of the strait to engage in dialogue on the basis of parity," she said.

Commenting on the president's speech in cross-strait relations, Lin Tzu-li (林子立), an associate professor of the Department of Political Science at Tunghai University, said that while Tsai emphasized that Taiwan will not act rashly even when it has support from international allies, China should stop its military activities near Taiwan to avoid conflict between the two sides.

It is of great importance for the two sides to extend goodwill to each other in order to achieve more harmonious cross-strait relations with the COVID-19 situation improving, Lin said.

Chao Chun-shan (趙春山), an honorary professor of China studies at Tamkang University, suggested that Taiwan and China should establish a crisis management mechanism to avoid mutual strategic suspicion caused by a lack of communication channels between Taiwan and China.

Chao indicated that Tsai's cross-strait policy is "to resist China and protect Taiwan," while the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) is "anti-Taiwan independence and pro-unification," showing that both sides have different policy positions in cross-strait relations and differ in the goals they pursue.

Taiwan is concerned about the CCP's "anti-Taiwan independence and pro-unification" policy due to fears that it could affect and endanger Taiwan's survival, while the CCP is worried that the "resist China and protect Taiwan" policy will affect China's commitment and efforts to fulfill its two centenary goals -- the basic foundation for achieving the "Chinese Dream" advanced by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), Chao said.

The huge discrepancies in their cross-strait policies and a lack of communication mean there is mutual strategic distrust between Taiwan and China, which could further fuel the escalation of hostility toward each other, Chao noted.

Chao suggested that a crisis management mechanism be established by the two sides under which Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China's Association for Relations across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), which are both semi-official bodies responsible for dealing with cross-strait matters in the absence of government-to-government contact, could discuss issues of mutual concern such as sales of fruits and COVID-19 vaccines.

Chu Chao-hsiang (曲兆祥), a professor at the National Taiwan Normal University's (NTNU) Graduate Institute of Political Science, said that although Tsai said her administration is willing to engage in dialogue with China, it has not yet translated this into concrete action.

Chu called on Tsai to take action to seek talks with Beijing on restoring cross-strait exchanges.

However, Liao Da-chi (廖達琪), a professor of political science at National Sun Yat-sen University, said that a meeting between Tsai and Xi is unlikely to take place during Tsai's term in office.

She also said that Tsai's reaffirmation of a commitment that the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China should not be subordinate to each other is in the interest of the United States.

(By Chen Chun-hua, Lai Yan-hsi and Evelyn Kao)

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