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Politics

Taiwan's Tsai urges Beijing to renounce forced unification

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a news conference in Taipei, Taiwan Jan. 5.   © Reuters

TAIPEI (Kyodo) -- Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday articulated her opposition to Beijing's proposal this week that the two sides unite under a "one country, two systems" model.    

Speaking at a question-and-answer session with foreign media at the Presidential Office, she said one reason the Taiwanese public does not accept the governance model that China implemented in Hong Kong is that Beijing does not rule out taking Taiwan by force.    

"It's clear that the majority of the people of Taiwan find the 'one country, two systems' unacceptable," Tsai said. "China's political system is not democratic enough, its record on human rights is bad, and it has never abandoned the threat to take Taiwan by force."   

It is the first time since taking office in May 2016 for her to list the reasons why Taiwan finds a "one country, two systems" arrangement unacceptable.   

Chinese President Xi Jinping in a speech on Wednesday called anew for unification under such a framework, pledging that China would respect the island's legal freedoms.   

In a response later that day, Tsai said Taiwan will never engage in any political consultation under such terms.    

On Saturday she urged all political parties in Taiwan to work together to reject Beijing's "one country, two systems" model and stop talking about the so-called "1992 Consensus," saying it has been clearly defined by Beijing as "one country, two systems" with no room for interpretation.    

Under the consensus, reached in a meeting in 1992 between Taiwan's then-ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party, the two sides reportedly agreed that Taiwan and China are both part of "one China," with each side free to interpret what "one China" means.    

The KMT, now in opposition, and the CPC regard the "1992 Consensus" as the political foundation for cross-strait talks.    

Tsai said that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can only accumulate mutual trust if China can become a country that is more democratic, protects more of its people's human rights and abandon the idea of taking Taiwan by force.   

"When there is more mutual trust, there is more room for talk and more options," she said, adding that Taiwan is willing to work with other like-minded countries for the island's safety.    

Before the question-and-answer session, Tsai gave a talk in which she said her government is willing to talk with China, but she urged Beijing to refrain from setting any "political precondition" for cross-strait talks.    

As a democracy, "cross-strait interaction must also follow the rules and oversight of the people of Taiwan, and therefore any discussions must be between governments that are representative of the people of both sides."    

In his speech on Wednesday, Xi said China is willing to talk with any political party, group or individual that recognizes the "1992 consensus" and opposes Taiwan independence.

Tsai on Saturday said such a proposal "is a continuation of (Beijing's) deliberate campaign to undermine and subvert our democratic process and create division in our society."    

Taiwan has been governed separately from the mainland since the two split amid a civil war in 1949. Beijing has since considered Taiwan a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

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