Mainland shows ‘restraint’ after Tsai’s landslide victory

By Ding Xuezhen Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-18 1:13:01

Beijing more confident dealing with Taiwan’s DPP

Beijing stopped short of antagonizing Taiwan's independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) after its candidate Tsai Ing-wen won a landslide victory in the island's "presidential" election on Saturday.

The Chinese mainland only reiterated its long-held one-China stance in concise statements.  The major principles and policies on Taiwan are "consistent and clear, and will not change with the results of the Taiwan elections," a representative of the Taiwan Work Office of the CPC Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council said in a statement hours after the election result was announced.

Responding to the elections, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hong Lei also reiterated the Chinese government's position of adhering to the one-China policy and opposing "Taiwan independence," "two Chinas" and "one China, one Taiwan."

The responses were a sharp contrast from warnings to then DPP-candidate Chen Shui-bian when he assumed power 16 years ago.

Beijing was taken by surprise with a shift in leadership on the island, warning that the mainland will "listen to his words and watching his deeds" toward Chen's government.

Beijing's response to Tsai's victory was seen as rational and restrained by observers, who believed the mainland now has more experience in dealing with the DPP.

Compared to the years of the Chen Shui-bian administration that was marked by defiance and constant provocation, Beijing now has a better grasp over cross-Straits relations, said Xu Shiquan, honorary director of the Institute for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.

Winning the elections is just getting over the first hurdle, more challenges are about to come, Xu said.

It is not easy for Taiwan, an export-oriented economy, to achieve rapid development in the current unfavorable international economic situation, Xu warned.

Taiwan's economy will suffer if cross-Straits relations deteriorate, said Chan Yi-Hsin, a scholar at Tamkang University in New Taipei City.

"This time, Beijing has shown confidence in responding to the possible changes to Taiwan's situation," Xu said, noting that the ball is in Tsai's court.

"On one hand, China again explicitly stated its position on the Taiwan question; on the other hand, it also expressed expectations for the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations," Hu Benliang, an expert on Taiwan studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

"Taking into consideration the relatively stable Asia-Pacific geopolitical structure and Sino-US relations, it can be said that the fundamental direction of cross-Straits relations is clear, regardless of the possible twists and turns after Tsai Ing-wen assumes office," he added.

In the past eight years, a host of achievements and measures conducive to maintaining cross-Straits peace and economic development has been made, such as the historic Xi Jinping-Ma Ying-jeou meeting in Singapore to the recent establishment of a hotline between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan.

"The stakes are high for Tsai Ing-wen," Hu said, because she will feel the challenges if the mainland alters its favorable policies toward cross-Straits relations.

Longing for peace

Tsai was elected the new Taiwan leader by 56.1 percent of the vote over KMT candidate Eric Chu Li-luan, winning by over 3 million votes.

The DPP captured 68 of 113 seats in the legislature, while its largest rival, the KMT, only secured 35 seats.

Voting for the DPP was not a vote for "Taiwan independence," Hu said, stressing the slogan of "Taiwan independence" was not even adopted by Tsai during the campaign.

"Polls have shown that over 70 percent of Taiwan residents support peaceful cross-Straits development. Nobody wants to see confrontation and conflicts between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan," Xu said.

"The younger generation's support for Tsai merely means placing their hopes on her," said Chan.

Tsai will face dissent if she cannot solve Taiwan's many structural problems, including the housing and salary problems, Chan added.


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