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Little movement expected in near-term cross-strait ties: report

ROC Central News Agency

05/01/2020 04:33 PM

Washington, April 30 (CNA) Neither a breakthrough in relations nor an increase in tensions across the Taiwan Strait are likely at the moment as Taiwan and China focus on the COVID-19 epidemic and the economic impact of the disease, a report by an American group has argued.

In the report released Thursday, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) said the two sides are waiting for the other side to make a conciliatory gesture, and see their own actions as deterrents and reactions to the aggressive steps of the other.

"Although prospects for cross-Strait rapprochement remain slim, there is a good chance to avoid an escalation of tensions because all sides regard global pandemic management and the impending global economic recession as the most urgent priorities in the coming months," the report said.

Titled "Cross-Strait Dynamics in the COVID-19 Era: Searching for Continuity Despite Growing 'Social Distancing,'" the report was published after the NCAFP held a videoconference on April 20 attended by scholars and retired government officials from Taiwan, China and the United States.

The NCAFP did not provide the list of the participants at the closed door meeting, which was held before President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party starts her second term May 20.

The report said an increase in communication and economic management across the Taiwan Strait, such as the coordination of humanitarian flights and online academic exchanges on the disease, could provide a release valve for cross-strait ties, the report said.

Such communication, however, is unlikely to help "resolve the fundamental differences between the two sides -- the hard work lies outside the scope of these practicalities."

The report cited Taiwanese participants as saying the linkage of the "1992 consensus" and the "one county, two systems" formula and Hong Kong's democracy movement resulted in the defeat of the China-friendly Kuomintang in the January presidential election.

"Tsai has high political support and few incentives to find new ways to resume cross-Strait dialogue," the report said. "Threats from Beijing will not create incentives for cooperation and will strengthen anti-engagement voices in Taiwan."

Participants in the meeting generally agreed that they had low expectations that Tsai will introduce a new formula in her inaugural speech later this month to serve as a basis to resume official ties across the Taiwan Strait, according to the report.

They suggested that in that speech Tsai repeat language from her first inaugural speech in 2016, including an appeal for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait based on the Republic of China Constitution as a goodwill gesture to Beijing.

The report also urged China not to block Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly, scheduled to convene later this month, even if only conditionally because of the COVID-19 epidemic.

(By Ozzy Ying and Frances Huang)

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