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Premier seeks to build up cross-strait goodwill

ROC Central News Agency

2017/03/07 18:02:48

Taipei, March 7 (CNA) Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said Tuesday that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has clearly outlined the nation's stance on cross-strait relations and expressed hope that both sides of the Taiwan Strait will continue to build up goodwill on that basis.

The premier said President Tsai has pledged to "maintain the status quo," but emphasized that peaceful and stable bilateral relations require the concerted effort of both Taiwan and China.

Lin said both sides should continue to develop goodwill based on that position and decline to engage in "unnecessary conjecture."

The premier was responding to remarks made by Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), director of the Taiwan Affairs Office under China's State Council, a day earlier.

In response to a question on the challenges and uncertainties in cross-strait relations this year, Zhang identified Taiwan independence forces as the major challenge facing relations, indicating that if splittist elements are not curbed, they pose a "very direct and serious threat" to the peaceful development of cross-strait relations as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Zhang said "at the end of the road to Taiwan independence lies unification," but indicated that such a unification would be harmful to Taiwan's society and its people who "would pay a hefty price."

Meanwhile, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan's top body guiding China policy, characterized Zhang's remarks as "extremely inappropriate" and not "conducive to cross-strait relations."

During a legislative question-and-answer session, MAC Minister Chang Hsiao-yueh (張小月) was asked if there are currently any high-level contacts between Taiwan and China, to which Chang said she had not had an opportunity to contact the Chinese side since taking office on May 20.

"Bilateral relations have always been difficult and complex, that requires patience, wisdom, and effort on both sides," she said.

The minister also said she will continue to insist on peace, stability and maintenance of the status quo, calling for dialogue to solve problems and adding that Taiwan will not seek to deliberately provoke China.

Chang said earlier that day "verbal intimidation or threat of force will only antagonize Taiwanese people."

She expressed hope that China will come to understand that it is better for both sides to treat each other with rationality, pragmatism and goodwill.

Cross-strait relations have been chilly since President Tsai took office in May 2016, mainly due to her refusal to heed Beijing's calls to recognize the "1992 consensus" as the sole political foundation for cross-strait exchanges.

The "1992 consensus" refers to a tacit understanding reached in 1992 between China and Taiwan, which was then under a KMT government, that there is only one China, with both sides free to interpret what that means.

(By Wang Cheng-chung, Justin Su and Lilian Wu)

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