Taiwan’s mainland affairs chief has denounced China’s “carrot and stick strategies” as an attempt to coerce the self-ruled island into changing the “status quo” but said Taipei is willing to settle its differences with Beijing in “good faith” via dialogue.
Chen Ming-tong, Taiwan’s minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, told a Heritage Foundation event in Washington on Wednesday that China has repeatedly sought to coerce Taiwan – either by military and diplomatic means, or through adopting policies aimed at integrating Taiwan with the mainland.
“By these carrot-and-stick strategies,” Chen said, “Beijing has been undermining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait with ever greater speed in an attempt to lead to an irreversible outcome.”
“We will not degrade ourselves because of belittlement by others,” he said, referring to the mainland’s tactics against Taiwan.
Chen’s comment came as Beijing started testing its military muscle in a six-day, live-fire drill over an area “roughly the size of Taiwan” in the East China Sea. The Chinese nationalist tabloid Global Times said the area would be a major battlefield if hostilities broke out between Beijing and Taipei.
But the top mainland affairs official said he believed that dialogue was “the best option to resolve differences” with Beijing since it would allow both sides to make “the choice between conflict and peace”.
Speaking with reporters after the event, Chen toned down his rhetoric, saying Beijing would appreciate Taipei’s show of “good faith” in a dialogue that could prevent cross-strait relations from returning to the “old confrontation mode”.
On Friday, President Xi Jinping pledged to work for “peaceful” cross-strait development during a meeting with Lien Chan, the ex-chairman of Taiwan’s former ruling Kuomintang Party.
“We have the confidence and ability to keep a firm hold on the correct direction, work for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, and advance the process toward the peaceful reunification of China,” Xi was quoted by the Xinhua news agency.
Xi called on the two sides to work together to uphold the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle, and to resolutely oppose and deter “Taiwan independence”.