Tsai says she won’t provoke Beijing but the recent elections on the island are a message for authorities across the Taiwan Strait
Re-elected president ‘needs to reflect public sentiment in policy with the mainland’
does not plan to take a tougher stand against mainland China but hopes
after her election win earlier this month.
Tsai told cable television station Era News that she also needed to find a way to translate the public sentiment reflected in the election results into cross-strait policy.
“The [result] of the recent elections is a direct message for China and we hope it can give it thorough thought to see if it needs to adjust anything in its relations with Taiwan,” she said in the interview aired late on Monday night.
“And for the same reason, we also need to think carefully on … our cross-strait policy so that … the Taiwanese will can be conveyed [to Beijing] and … relations between the two sides can remain peaceful and stable.”
Tsai, from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), gained a record 8.17 million votes to secure a second term in the January 11 presidential election – a convincing win over her main rival,
In the legislative race held alongside the presidential election, the DPP also won impressively, winning 61 seats against the KMT’s 38, allowing the ruling party to continue to control the Legislative Yuan.
Tsai said the results did not necessarily mean Taiwanese people wanted a tough approach in dealing with the mainland. “It is the duty of the leader to maintain peaceful and stable relations [across the Taiwan Strait],” she said.
Cross-strait ties have been suspended since Tsai took office in 2016 and refused to accept the one-China principle – a political understanding that there is only one China but ambiguity over whether it is governed by Taipei or Beijing.
Beijing sees the principle as the foundation for any exchanges between the two sides.
It also sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be returned to its control, by force if necessary.
During Tsai’s presidency, Beijing has ramped up pressure on the island, including by poaching its diplomatic allies and staging military drills nearby.
In Monday’s interview, Tsai said she would not choose to provoke Beijing by changing the island’s official title, suggesting that she would not push for the island to be declared the Republic of Taiwan.
She said the title “the Republic of China, Taiwan” had been used during the presidency of her predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou of the KMT, “so there is no issue of changing our national title”.
Tsai also said she would not rule out having a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
“I have repeatedly said if it can help increase cross-strait peace and stability … and under the basis of peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue, we hope to achieve cross-strait interactions in any form,” she said.
In January last year, Xi called for Taiwan to hold unification talks under the one-China principle and “one country, two systems” model applied in Hong Kong and Macau – a proposal sternly rejected by Tsai.