TAIPEI Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen called on China to change its thinking and extend goodwill in its relationship with the self-ruled island, according to an interview published on Wednesday by a newspaper considered close to her main opposition.
Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own, cut official communication channels with Taipei soon after Tsai took power in May last year to pressure her and her party into recognising the “one China” principle agreed by the previous Nationalist government.
The United Daily News, a major Taiwanese daily regarded as close to the Nationalists, reported that Tsai said stable cross-Strait ties would also benefit China, referring to the body of water separating the two sides.
China should consider how it can use an attitude of goodwill in its approach, Tsai was paraphrased as saying in the front page article.
She said the global situation is changing and that it takes both sides to keep peace and stability in bilateral relations.
Tsai leads the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party and says she wants to maintain peaceful ties without bowing to pressure from China.
Tsai has said she will “maintain the status quo”, but has not conceded to the “one China” principle. The principle recognizes there is one China, but leaves room for each side to interpret whether Beijing or Taipei rules it.
When asked how she sees ties developing with China after a Communist Party congress later this year, at which President Xi Jinping is expected to further consolidate his power, Tsai said any political decision-maker should be prepared for all possible outcomes.
The interview, Tsai’s second within a week, is likely aimed at laying the ground before a speech she is expected to deliver on May 20 to mark the anniversary of her taking office.
China slammed Tsai’s inaugural speech last year as offering an “incomplete answer” to what it called an exam on bilateral relations.
In an interview with Reuters last week, Tsai said: “Why not say we both are facing a new exam. We also look forward to China using a different perspective to face this new exam.”
Defeated Nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing a Chinese civil war to Mao Zedong’s Communists, and the island has been self-ruled ever since. The young democracy has shown no interest in being ruled by autocratic China.
(Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)