TAIPEI -- Democratic Progressive Party chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's main opposition leader who stands a good chance of winning in the presidential poll next January, said Thursday that she will not provoke Beijing and her party will be committed to maintaining steady ties with China should it return to power.
Tsai's statement is her latest effort to address concerns from the international community, especially the U.S., that tensions between Taiwan and China could heighten if the pro-independence DPP secures the presidency next year.
"We are confident we can handle cross-strait relations well," Tsai told senior DPP officials in a closed-door meeting, according to a party statement. "We will not create conflicts and come into a standoff with Beijing."
"Our fundamental principle in handling cross-strait relations is to maintain the status quo, to preserve peace and stable development in ties [with China]," she added. "We will also consolidate mutual trust with the U.S. and let that mutual trust become a positive factor in ensuring the peaceful and stable development of cross-strait relations."
After the DPP won the Taiwanese presidential election for the first time in 2000, following 50 years of National Party rule, Chen Shui-bian's eight-year presidency was characteristed by rocky relationships with both Beijing and Washington.
At the later stage of his presidency, he often angered the Chinese and worried the Americans with his provocative anti-Beijing, pro-independence rhetoric. While Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, Beijing still treats Taiwan as part of its territory and has never ruled out using force to reclaim the island.
The Taiwanese public became apprehensive of Chen's approach and, in 2008, voted in Ma Ying-jeou from the China-friendly Nationalists on the back of his pledge to forge close mainland ties, reduce tensions and boost Taiwan's economy.
However, a large number of Taiwanese voters have grown weary of Ma and his pro-China stance over the past year, with many feeling his policies only benefit big business and give Beijing undue influence over the island.