Taiwan’s new independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen tread carefully around the thorny issue of relations with China in her inaugural address Friday, emphasizing the importance of two decades of growing exchanges without mentioning the one-China principle fundamental to Beijing.
Tsai said in her speech that she respected the “joint acknowledgements and understandings” reached between the sides at a landmark 1992 meeting seen by China as underpinning all subsequent contacts and agreements.
However, Tsai made no explicit mention of the concept that Taiwan is a part of China. Beijing claims the self-governing island as its own territory and says failing to endorse the one-China principle would destabilize relations.
In Beijing, the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office issued a statement noting Tsai’s reference to the 1992 meeting, but saying she had taken an “ambiguous stance” over the nature of the relationship between the sides.
Her failure to explicitly endorse what China calls the “‘92 consensus” embodying the principle of one-China, or to offer a “specific proposal to ensure the peaceful and stable development of relations between the sides” had left the question unanswered, the office said.
The statement, issued about five hours after Tsai’s speech, also reaffirmed China’s rigid opposition to Taiwan’s formal independence, stating that: “Today, our determination to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity is unshaken, our capability is strengthened and we will resolutely contain any ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist acts or plots in whatever form they take.”
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