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Official warns against resurgence of diplomatic war with China

ROC Central News Agency

2015/12/28 14:18:57

Taipei, Dec. 28 (CNA) The Presidential Office on Monday warned of the danger of restarting a diplomatic war with China, following criticism by opposition presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) foreign policy.

'Tsai Ing-wen should tell the people how many of our diplomatic allies would be lost if she really comes to power and chooses to resume the 'scorched-earth diplomacy'' of the previous Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration under Chen Shui-bian from 2000 to 2008, said Presidential Office spokesman Charles Chen (陳以信).

Nine of Taiwan's diplomatic allies switched recognition from Taipei to Beijing during Chen's two presidential terms as a result of his decision to take on China directly in the global community, the spokesman said. Taiwan is currently recognized formally by 22 countries, mostly small nations in Central America and the Pacific.

A repeat of the former DPP administration's policy would pose an 'enormous risk to the ties across the Taiwan Strait and to our international relations and seriously undermine the peace and prosperity that has developed in the Taiwan Strait over the past seven and a half years,' the spokesman said.

He made the comments a day after DPP Chairwoman Tsai criticized the Ma administration's 'diplomatic ceasefire (with China),' during a presidential candidate debate on live television.

In the debate, Tsai said Ma's policy has led to Taiwan's 'diplomats not knowing what they're fighting for.'

Taiwan's diplomatic relations now 'depend on China's mood,' she added.

Tsai has enjoyed a consistent lead in the opinion polls in the run-up to the Jan. 16 presidential election and looks set to succeed Ma, who will step down on May 20 after serving the maximum two four-year terms.

The presidential spokesman also repeated its criticism of Tsai for refusing to accept the so-called 1992 Consensus, which has allowed Taiwan and China to improve ties since 2008 by shelving the controversial issue of Taiwan's political ties with China.

Using Tsai's own words about those who question her position on the consensus, Chen said it is Tsai who is 'pretending to be asleep.'

'Tsai Ing-wen is the only one left in the world who cannot be woken up, as even (Chinese leaders) Hu Jin-tao (胡錦濤) and Xi Jinping (習近平) have acknowledged the existence of the 1992 Consensus,' Chen said.

The consensus refers to an understanding reached in 1992 between the governments of Taiwan and China that helped open the door for historic government-sanctioned negotiations between the two sides. It underscores the concept of one China while allowing each side to interpret what that means.

Echoing the Presidential Office's warning, Legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan (蔡正元) said Taiwan could lose most of its current allies if Tsai wins the election but fails to maintain stable relations with China.

The lawmaker, who is affiliated with Ma's Kuomintang party, said at a press conference that he has '100 percent accurate information' that 18 countries have been 'lining up outside China's foreign ministry,' presumably waiting to switch diplomatic recognition if Taiwan's relations with China turn sour.

There is general agreement in Taiwan that, during Ma's presidency, Beijing has refrained from stealing Taiwan's diplomatic allies even if a country breaks formal ties with Taiwan, as Gambia did in November 2013.

In response to the warnings, DPP Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the talk of diplomatic losses was 'irresponsible scare-mongering.'

The DPP presidential candidate has emphasized that she would always keep the interests of Taiwan's 23 million people in mind in formulating and implementing foreign policy, Lee said.

(By Claudia Liu and Jay Chen)
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