Taiwan inaugurates Tsai Ing-wen as new leader
Taiwan’s new leader Tsai Ing-wen tread carefully around the island’s relationship with China in her inaugural address Friday, emphasizing the importance of two decades of growing exchanges between Beijing and Taipei. She made no mention of Beijing’s one-China principle.
Tsai said she respected the “joint acknowledgements and understandings” reached at a landmark 1992 meeting at which both sides agreed there was just one China. Beijing sees this consensus this as the underpinning all subsequent contacts and agreements with Taipei.
The crowd was dotted with banners that read: “Adhering to the 1992 Consensus, and maintaining peace across the Taiwan Strait,” and “Both sides of the Strait belong to one China,” and slogans, such as “Opposition to Taiwan independence, and support for peaceful unification,” were chanted by the protestors.
“The essence of the 1992 Consensus is that both sides of the Strait belong to one China,” said Chang An-lo, president of the China Unionist Party.
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In Beijing, the Taiwan Affairs Office issued a statement noting Tsai’s reference to the 1992 meeting, but said she had taken an “ambiguous stance” over the nature of the relationship.
Her failure to explicitly endorse what China calls the ‘92 consensus on 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.
“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.”
In her address, Tsai called for Taipei and Beijing to “set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides.”
She said her administration would “work to maintain peace and stability” in relations between the sides. However, she added that Taiwan’s democratic system and the will of its 23 million people must be respected in the course of cross-Strait dialogue.
The Nationalist Party government of Tsai’s predecessor Ma Ying-jeou had repeatedly endorsed the one-China principle and the ‘92 consensus –and reached a series of trade agreements between the sides.
The U.S. Department of State congratulated Tsai on her inauguration, and said it looks forward to working with her administration, as well as with all Taiwanese political parties and civic groups, to strengthen ties further.
Story compiled from Associated Press and Xinhua wires.