As China’s strongest critic Tsai Ing-wen assumed power in Taiwan on Friday and pledged democracy and close ties with the US, a wary Beijing warned her against seeking independence and said the ‘One-China policy’ remained the corner-stone of its relations with other countries.
Tsai, 59, took the oath as the new President of Taiwan in Taipei . She is the head of the Democratic Progressive Party, which advocates Taiwan’s independence from the mainland.
“Once again, the people of Taiwan have shown the world through our actions that we, as a free and democratic people, are committed to the defence of our freedom and democracy as a way of life,” Tsai said in her address after taking oath.
Referring to Taiwan’s ties with China, the island’s first female President said the “stable and peaceful development of the cross-Strait relationship must be continuously promoted”.
She called on on both sides to “set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides.”
According to experts what Tsai said in her speech is unlikely to satisfy Beijing. It sees eventual unification with the island as non-negotiable. With tensions rising in the South China Sea, Beijing is keen for Taiwan to be its ally rather than be aligned with rival claimants to the disputed islets in the sea.
“If ‘independence’ is pursued, it will be impossible to have peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits,” the Taiwan Affairs Office said hours after Tsai was sworn in. “Independence is the greatest disaster for the peaceful development of peace in the Taiwan straits and the peaceful development of cross-straits relations.”