Beijing Warns New Taiwanese President On Independence

May 20, 2016

NewsStandOnline.Net (20-May-2016): Beijing warned Taiwan’s new president Tsai Ing-Wen against seeking independence, cautioning that peace would be “impossible” if she made any moves to formally break away.

The remarks came just hours after Tsai’s inauguration speech struck a conciliatory note, calling for a “positive dialogue” with China on fraught cross-strait ties in her much-anticipated address.

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after the Kuomintang nationalist forces lost a civil war to the Communists, although Taiwan has never declared an official breakaway.  But Beijing still sees self-ruling Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification.

While Tsai has pledged to maintain the status quo with Beijing, authorities there are highly suspicious of her and her Democratic Progressive Party, which is traditionally pro-independence.  “If ‘independence’ is pursued, it will be impossible to have peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits,” the Taiwan Affairs Office said in a statement after Tsai was sworn in.

“Independence is the greatest disaster for the peaceful development of peace in the Taiwan straits and the peaceful development of cross-straits relations,” it said.

Beijing Warns New Taiwanese President On Independence

Relations with Beijing have already cooled since Tsai won the presidency, with China putting pressure on her to back its “one China” message – the bedrock of the thaw under outgoing leader Ma Ying-jeou.

Tsai and the DPP have never recognised the concept and she showed no sign of changing that stance in her speech, clearly irking Beijing.  Tsai took office as the island’s first female president after winning a landslide victory in January to defeat the ruling Kuomintang, ending an eight-year rapprochement with Beijing under Ma.

Voters felt Ma had moved too close to China and Tsai swept in with a campaign to restore Taiwanese pride.  But she sought to cast Taiwan as a force for peace in front of a jubilant crowd of more than 20,000 at the presidential palace in Taipei.

“The two governing parties across the strait must set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides,” she said.

However, without mentioning China by name, she said Taiwan needed to end its dependency on the mainland for trade, “to bid farewell to our past reliance on a single market”.

She also expressed the island’s commitment to its democratic freedoms.