At swearing-in, Taiwan’s President Tsai calls for ‘positive dialogue’ with Beijing643 views
TAIPEI: Taiwan’s new President Tsai Ing-wen called for “positive dialogue” with China in her much-anticipated inauguration speech Friday (May 20), striking a conciliatory tone in the face of an increasingly hostile Beijing.
Tsai took office after winning a landslide victory in January to defeat the ruling Kuomintang, ending an eight-year rapprochement with Beijing under outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou.
Voters felt Ma had moved too close to China, which still sees self-ruling Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
Beijing-sceptic Tsai swept in with a campaign to restore Taiwanese pride, a message that resonated with a public tired of living in China’s shadow.
As 20,000 invited guests and cheering members of the public watched outside the presidential office, Tsai raised her right arm as she read the oath in front of Taiwan’s national flag. She received the seal of the Republic of China — Taiwan’s official name — and the presidential seal.
Tsai then accompanied Ma out of the presidential office as he shook hands with smiling staff and a brass marching band paraded.
TSAI CALLS FOR ‘POSITIVE DIALOGUE’ WITH CHINA
Tsai called for “positive dialogue” with China in her much-anticipated inauguration speech, striking a conciliatory tone in the face of an increasingly hostile Beijing.
“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 in the speech outside the presidential office in Taipei after being sworn in.
Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party have never backed the “one China” concept, unlike outgoing leader Ma who oversaw an eight-year rapprochement with Beijing.
While she showed no sign of backing down from that stance, Tsai sought to cast Taiwan as a cross-strait peacemaker, countering Beijing’s view of the new government as a source of instability.
“Cross-strait relations have become an integral part of building regional peace and collective security,” she told an audience of 20,000 who regularly cheered and applauded. “In this process, Taiwan will be a ‘staunch guardian of peace’ that actively participates and is never absent.”
HIGH HOPES AMID CELEBRATIONS
“Tsai Ing-wen is the first woman president in Taiwan’s history so I want to witness this sacred moment,” said teacher Chen Su-mei, 48, who watched the swearing-in on a big screen outside the presidential office. “I hope she will bring more stability to Taiwan and revive our economy. We have high hopes for her.”
Others praised her for the conciliatory speech. “I was touched by the part where she said both sides across the strait should work for the wellbeing of their people. I believe she can do it,” said Mahdi Lin, 40.
The Taiwan-centric inauguration celebrations included 1,000 performers in a showcase of the island’s history and culture, entitled “Pride of Taiwan”. Mock protesters also appeared alongside singers in a “March of Taiwan Democracy” segment, billed as a performance to remind the new government to listen to the public.
Choirs will also perform “Ilha Formosa”, a poetic tribute to Taiwan banned in 1979, when the KMT ruled under martial law, because it had been adopted as an anthem by opposition groups.
MAINTAIN ‘STATUS QUO’
Beijing wants Tsai to publicly acknowledge its message that there is only “one China”, a concept enshrined in a tacit agreement with the KMT known as the “1992 consensus”.
Tsai has consistently pledged to maintain the status quo but critics have pushed her to explain further how she can achieve that without compromise over the “one China” sticking point. The concept is enshrined in a tacit agreement with the KMT known as the “1992 consensus”.
In her speech Friday Tsai reiterated her previous stance of acknowledging that the 1992 meeting had happened, but without endorsing the “one China” principle. Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949 after a civil war but has never declared a breakaway.
Beijing has warned Tsai against any move towards formal independence — the DPP is traditionally a pro-independence party. The vast majority of Taiwanese want peaceful relations with China, but not at the expense of their cherished democratic culture.
“She can negotiate with China as long as Taiwan’s sovereignty is upheld,” 19-year-old college student Hu Hsiu-chi told AFP. “To me Taiwan is an independent country.”
Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949 after a civil war but has never declared a breakaway. Chinese pressure tactics in recent months have included the deportation of Taiwanese fraud suspects to the mainland from Kenya and Malaysia, infuriating Taipei.
News Source ChannelNewsAsia