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Sunday, 17 January 2016

Taiwan chooses Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman, Tsai Ing-wen, not independence

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Tsai Ing-wen won by a landslide in Taiwan’s “presidential” elections on Saturday, and the DPP she leads captured the majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan, with the Kuomintang once again becoming an opposition party.

Since KMT’s defeat in Taiwan’s nine-in-one local elections in 2014, it’s expected that the DPP will assume power again. To win the election, Tsai made prudent remarks and took an ambiguous attitude toward cross-Straits policies in the past year. She kept stressing maintaining the status quo of cross-Straits ties.

By circumventing the sensitive cross-Straits issue, Tsai had clearly drawn a lesson from her defeat four years ago. When “Taiwan’s path” was discussed in the “presidential” campaign this time around, the focus was not whether the island should seek “independence,” but how to boost the island's economy, address social inequality, and guarantee the future of younger generations.

The vote is not a gauge of cross-Straits relations. The DPP’s victory doesn’t mean the majority of Taiwanese support Taiwan independence. Tsai and her party are aware of this, so in her victory speech, she was evasive about the current issues between Taiwan and the mainland, only scrupulously stating that she will be engaged in a “consistent, predictable and sustainable cross-Straits relations.”

The past eight years have seen greater progress for cross-Straits relations. Such progress, which is hard to be reversed, will provide some restraint on the DPP’s mainland policy. Besides, the mainland has an asymmetrical edge over Taiwan in political, military and economic terms. The mainland firmly holds the initiative in cross-Straits relations, making Taiwan independence a completely impossible scenario.

The KMT’s eight-year administration has made contributions to the current stage of cross-Straits relations, a performance that merits recognition both in Taiwan and the mainland. After this power shift, the DPP should assume the responsibility of serving the best interests of Taiwanese society, avoiding creating trouble for cross-Straits relations like it did as an opposition party. If the DPP abandons the progress made by its predecessor in the past eight years, it will jeopardize its future as a ruling party. The lesson of Chen Shui-bian should be a long-lasting lesson.

The mainland should be more prudent toward the power shift in Taiwan. No matter which party takes power, the mainland should maintain a policy calling for peaceful development between the mainland and Taiwan, while it cannot waver in opposing any form of pro-independence movement in Taiwan.

Tsai hasn’t publicly accepted the “1992 consensus,” which casts a cloud over cross-Straits official communications after she assumes office. The mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Saturday said that Beijing upholds the 1992 consensus and hasn’t shown any change toward Taiwan.

Regardless of its relationship with the mainland, it’s impossible for the DPP to reverse Taiwan’s stagnant economy. No matter what kind of political philosophy Tsai espouses, she has to face up to the reality. She should know she has limited options.

Tsai should keep in mind that if she revisits Chen’s dangerous path to cross the red line of cross-Straits relations, she will meet a dead end. We hope Tsai can lead the DPP out of the hallucinations of Taiwan independence, and contribute to the peaceful and common development between Taiwan and the mainland. - - Global Times

Tsai should prove sincerity about peace across Taiwan Straits

Now that the Democratic Progressive Party leader Tsai Ing-wen has won Taiwan's "presidential" election, she should waste no time to prove that she is sincere in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. She should work to make people in Taiwan feel safe, instead of creating anxieties with her ambiguous mainland policy.

Tsai has played the card of "maintaining the status quo" during her election campaigns. But she has never made it clear how she would approach the 1992 Consensus.

As the cornerstone of cross-Straits relations, the consensus insists there is only one China, of which both the mainland and Taiwan are a part, though the meaning of "one China" is open to interpretation by both sides.

For a Taiwan leader, whether to accept the consensus or not decides which direction he or she would lead the island in: peace and stability, or conflicts and tension. The issue bears no ambiguity.

Thanks to the consensus, cross-Straits relations have developed smoothly over the past eight years. A slew of agreements have been signed to boost trade and tourism, bringing benefits to people on both sides. The two sides' top leaders met last November, for the first time since 1949.

All this has not come by easily, and should not be taken for granted. It requires efforts from both sides to make sure the momentum will not be interrupted by a leadership change, or derailed by any political missteps and misjudgment. After all, peaceful development of cross-Straits relations conforms to the interests of both Taiwan and the mainland.

Tsai has reportedly expressed wishes that both sides could work together for peace across the Taiwan Straits. If she means what she says, and accepts the 1992 Consensus, prospects for cross-Straits relations will remain promising.

The mainland has kept the door to dialogue open with the DPP so long as it accepts that both the mainland and Taiwan belong to one China. The mainland has also taken a flexible approach when handling relations with the DPP. The channel of communication remains unblocked.

Many differences remain between the mainland and Taiwan, not only in lifestyle and social system, but also in how and when the two sides should be reunited. But under no circumstance should the differences be used as excuses to seek Taiwan independence, which means war, as the mainland's Anti-Secession Law suggests. The bottom line shall never be tested.

Any attempt to steer the island closer to independence will be a fool's errand. - China Daily

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