Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Monday she could consider meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) as long as the two met on an equal footing. In an interview with SET News, Tsai reiterated she would be willing to meet with Xi based the four principles she said were needed to stabilize the relationship across the Taiwan Strait: “peace,” “parity,” “democracy” and “dialogue.”
“We hope cross-strait interactions will take place based on such a foundation (of the four principles),” Tsai said. “We will consider any form of interaction (with China)” based on the four principles. Tsai of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), won a second term on Jan. 11 by nearly 20 points over her closest rival, Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) of the China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT).
In her victory speech on election day, Tsai described her victory as an indication of the value Taiwan’s people place on democracy, and she unveiled the four principles as the foundation for interaction with China. According to Tsai, “peace” means that China must abandon threats of force against Taiwan and “parity” means that neither side of the Taiwan Strait should deny the fact of the other’s existence.
“Democracy” means that the future of Taiwan must be decided by the country’s 23 million people and “dialogue” means that the two sides must be able to sit down and discuss the future development of cross-strait relations.
Beijing has responded to Tsai’s four principles by reiterating its advocacy of the “1992 consensus” — a formula China sees as advocating Taiwan belonging to “one China” that Tsai and the DPP have long rejected.
It has also not hinted at any possibility of Xi meeting Tsai, but the Taiwanese media has continued to ask about Tsai’s willingness to meet with China’s president. During the interview, Tsai said she was hoping China will listen carefully to what people in Taiwan signaled with their votes and pay special attention to it when considering policies on Taiwan.
“The election results showed that people in Taiwan said loudly they cannot accept China’s ‘one country, two systems’ formula because Taiwan is a free and democratic society and each person is used to this lifestyle,” Tsai said.
In a speech in January 2019, Xi proposed the “one country, two systems” as a way for China’s reunification with Taiwan and he did not rule out of the use of force to unify Taiwan.
“People in Taiwan have expressed their attitude very clearly and many countries in the world have explained the election outcome in such a way,” Tsai said.
Tsai prioritized peace and stability as Taiwan’s top agenda to deal with ties across the Taiwan Strait. She said Taiwan needs to have a sufficient self-defense capability to ensure peace and stability, which entails not only focusing on its capabilities to build weapons but also on purchasing defense equipment from the outside world.
When asked whether Taiwan can protect itself if China uses forces against Taiwan, Tsai said she has faith in the country’s self-defense capabilities but emphasized that further efforts are still needed to strengthen the country’s defense to ensure peace across the strait.
In a separate interview with ERA News on Monday, Tsai said it will be impossible for Taiwan and China to keep their ties as ambiguous as before after the latest presidential election, as people in Taiwan have expressed their attitude clearly.
Since coming to power in 2016, Tsai has rejected the “1992 consensus,” which the opposition KMT has described as a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between the then KMT government and the Chinese government.
The consensus has been consistently interpreted by the KMT as both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledging there is only “one China” with each free to interpret what “China” means. However, Beijing has never publicly recognized the second part of the KMT interpretation.
“This election had the advantage of reflecting the will of Taiwan’s people so that China could clearly hear Taiwanese public opinion. Polished rhetoric from politicians cannot tell [China] what the expectations of Taiwan’s people are,” Tsai said.