Taiwan president says wants to maintain communication with China

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ASUNCION Taiwan’s government will continue to look for ways to maintain dialogue with China, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, after Beijing said it had halted a regular communication mechanism with Taipei.

China, which regards the self-ruled island as a wayward province, is deeply suspicious of Tsai, who took office last month, since Beijing suspects she will push for formal independence.

Tsai, who heads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, says she wants to maintain the status quo and is committed to ensuring peace.

But China has insisted she recognize a pact called the “1992 consensus” between its Communists and Taiwan’s then-ruling Nationalists, by which both agreed there is only one China, with each having its own interpretation of what that means.

On Saturday, China said because Taiwan’s new government would not recognize that principle, it had stopped the regular communication mechanism between the two sides.

“No matter what party is in government in Taiwan, we always have a single, common objective: to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Tsai told reporters during a visit to Paraguay, Taiwan’s sole diplomatic ally in South America.

“We will continue the dialogue with mainland China, as even though, probably at this moment official negotiation channels have been temporarily interrupted, there still exist other options for communication and dialogue,” she said, speaking through an interpreter.

On Wednesday, Taiwan Premier Lin Chuan said the government’s approach was for positive interactions with China to continue, based on existing foundations.

“There must be willingness on both sides to move forward on the relationship,” Lin told reporters about the suspension issue at a function in southern Taiwan.

But in Beijing, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office signaled there would be no compromise, saying the “1992 consensus” had been the basis for improved relations since 2008, when the China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became president and signed a series of landmark trade and tourism deals with China.

“People cannot help but ask – why does Taiwan want to change the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait that has been in place since 2008? What is the aim?” An Fengshan asked at a regular news briefing.

Tsai is on her first trip overseas as president, visiting diplomatic allies Panama and Paraguay, with transit stops in the United States each way.

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan after a civil war with the Communists in 1949, which has never formally ended. China has also never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

(Reporting by Daniela Desantis; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing and J.R. Wu in Taipei; Writing by Adam Jourdan and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)



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