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China Reform Monitor - No. 1206

Special CRM: Regional Responses to Taiwan

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
February 11, 2016

[Editor’s Introduction: This CRM looks at the results of Taiwan’s election and the response from the U.S. and Taiwan’s neighbors. In a landslide victory over the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen won the presidency and her party took control of the Legislative Yuan for the first time in history. The DPP won 60 percent of the seats in the legislature compared with 35 percent in the 2012 election. The KMT, which won 57 percent of the seats four years ago, won only 31 percent this time. In 2000, Chen Shui-bian became the first DPP member to win the presidency, and although from 2001 to 2004 the party did have more seats than any other, it never held an absolute legislative majority].

January 16:

DPP secretary general Joseph has visited Washington and delivered a 
keynote speech at the Center for Strategic and International StudiesReuters reports. Wu, the DPP's senior national security official, said:"As for the specific phraseology of the ‘1992 consensus,’ created by the KMT in the year 2000, she [Tsai] advocates a return to the original spirit of ‘setting aside differences to seek common ground’ that formed the basis of the 1992 cross- strait meetings. Going forward, we will do our utmost to find a mutually acceptable mode of interaction between Taiwan and the mainland, one that avoids confrontation and prevents surprises. We will, in a new session of the legislature, put forward the Cross-Strait Agreement Oversight legislation as a priority to highlight our interest in peaceful and stable relations with China." In order for people in Taiwan to understand any engagement with mainland China, "we need to handle it in a more transparent way and we also need to have some guiding principles or rules and norms," Wu said.

January 17:

The official Global Times published an editorial calling on Tsai to consider the opinions of China's 1.3 billion people when managing cross strait relations. "Trying to use chips like 'Taiwan public opinion' to guide cross-strait relations is not only unrealistic, it is also dangerous. Tsai should not instill this illusion into Taiwan society," the Chinese editorial said. "The mainland has patience when it comes to the Taiwan issue, but it also has principles and a bottom line." In an English-language editorial Global Times called on Tsai to acknowledge the"1992 Consensus” as a framework for cross strait relations and said:"Tsai should keep in mind that if she revisits Chen’s dangerous path to cross the red line of cross-Straits relations, she will meet a dead end. We hope Tsai can lead the DPP out of the hallucinations of Taiwan independence.”

January 18:

Japan welcomed the election of pro-independence DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen as Taiwan’s president, and hopes to strengthen relations with Taiwan under her leadership. Calling Taiwan "an important partner and a precious friend" that shares "basic values," Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that the outcome shows democracy has "deeply taken root" in Taiwan, 
reports the Japan Times. Kishida said the government "will work toward further deepening cooperation and exchanges between Japan and Taiwan," Kyodo reports. "Drawing Taiwan closer to Japan and the United States will lead to deterrence against China," a Japanese Defense Ministry official said in comments reported by The Mainichi

[Editor’s Note: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe held talks with Tsai in Taiwan in 2011 before he returned to power in 2012. Abe contacted Tsai when she visited Japan last autumn, and his brother, former Senior Vice-Foreign Minister Nobuo Kishi, invited Tsai to his home in Yamaguchi prefecture.] 

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns and American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Ray Burghardt met with Tsai and other senior DPP officials soon after the party’s historic victory. According to a statement by the Institute, which is the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei, Burns and Burghardt congratulated Tsai and "conveyed the United States' support for Taiwan's continued prosperity and growth, as well as our longstanding interest in cross-strait peace and stability," Tsai told the two diplomats she would take responsibility for maintaining peace and stability in regional issues and that her government-elect would keep "close and friendly" relations with the United States,
 Reuters reports.

January 19:

Taiwan's President-elect voiced optimism about relations with South Korea, saying the two sides now have one more thing in common: first-ever female leaders."It's historically meaningful that both countries, which already share democratic values and development experiences, have embraced female presidents,” Tsai said in a 
written interview with Yonhap News Agency."I cherish the common experiences of South Korea and Taiwan, including their values of democracy and freedom," she said. "South Korea and Taiwan are expected to strengthen exchanges in every sector, based on longstanding friendly ties and shared democratic values, not only for more welfare for the people of the two nations but also for the peace, happiness, and more benefits in the region and the international community," she said. In 2012, Tsai wrote a"blurb” for the Chinese-version of South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s memoir published in Taiwan. 


Related Categories: China; China and East Asia Program

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