China has ignored Taiwan goodwill gestures over past 6 years: VP Lai

07/21/2022 11:01 PM
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Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德)
Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德)

Taipei, July 21 (CNA) Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) on Thursday characterized cross-strait relations over the past six years as China repeatedly ignoring Taiwan's gestures of goodwill resulting in the current poor state of relations.

Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) became president in 2016, she has extended an olive branch to China at least twice, but received no positive response from Beijing, Lai told a book launch event in Taipei.

Had Beijing been able to appreciate the goodwill gesture and responded appropriately, cross-strait relations would not have become as they are today, he said.

Tsai first offered Beijing an olive branch in her 2016 inauguration address, in which she vowed to handle cross-strait affairs in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of China (the official name of Taiwan) and the Act Governing Relations Between the People of Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (or Cross-Strait Relations Act), Lai said.

The statement is seen by some cross-strait experts as an assurance that she had no intent in changing the status quo, which, as defined by the ROC Constitution and the Cross-Strait Relations Act, is two areas -- the Taiwan Area and Mainland Area -- under the ROC.

Tsai's pledge to comply with the ROC Constitution and the Cross-Strait Relations Act sought to safeguard the sovereignty of the nation while extending an olive branch to China, but Beijing responded by describing it as an "incomplete exam paper," Lai said.

In spite of that, Tsai did not give up on her commitment to cross-strait relations and instead made further goodwill gestures, as in the Double Ten National Day address that year, Lai said.

"Our pledges will not change, and our goodwill will not change. But we will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation," Lai quoted Tsai as saying.

Tsai's overture was met with China's reiteration of the "one country, two systems" framework, as applied to Hong Kong and Macau, under which it intends to take over Taiwan, Lai said.

After Tsai was reelected president in 2020, she again extended an olive branch by vowing to adhere to the four principles -- peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue -- in her handling of cross-strait relations, only to see China resort to increasing aggression against Taiwan, Lai said.

The aggressive behavior include relentless incursions by Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft into the southwestern part of Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and suppression of Taiwan in the international community, he added.

Lai noted that some people ask the Tsai administration what alternatives it has to the "one China principle" and "1992 consensus" that Beijing considers preconditions for cross-strait relations.

The 1992 consensus refers to a formula embraced by the previous Kuomintang (KMT) administration, under which Taiwan and China agreed that there was only "one China," with each side free to interpret what that meant, according to the KMT's definition.

However, setting political preconditions for exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is unnecessary, Lai said.

Citing as an example the support Japan and former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated on July 8, extended to Taiwan, without any preconditions, Lai said mutual respect and good intentions are most important, whether in interpersonal relations or international relationships.

(By Shen Peng-ta and Shih Hsiu-chuan)


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