By Chris Wang / Staff reporter
If the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is able to do well in the seven-in-one elections in November, Beijing would have no option but to adjust its strategy toward the party because it has always been pragmatic, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in an interview.
“Simply put, whoever seizes the momentum, others would shift toward the powerful side,” Tsai said in response to a question about the DPP’s relations with Beijing in an interview with the Chinese-language CommonWealth Magazine published on Wednesday.
“The DPP’s biggest challenge is the seven-in-one elections. If we do well, even China will adjust its policy toward the DPP. If [China] feels like the DPP is going to win in 2016 [in the presidential election], it would take the initiative to create conditions for reconciliation,” she said. “In my past experience, whatever the Chinese want to do, they will eventually be able to do... and once Beijing adjusts [its policy], Washington will perhaps find that there is nothing left for it to say.”
Perhaps the adjustment would also allow Taiwan and China to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership together, the DPP chairperson said.
With Tsai eyeing another run at the presidency in 2016, the DPP has been trying to improve its ties with the Chinese Communist Party and, in particular, the Taiwan independence clause in its party charter has come under scrutiny.
Several DPP members have proposed freezing the clause.
The most important element in the cross-strait relations is developing a sustainable, consistent and stable relationship, and the Taiwan independence clause would not necessarily be the first priority, Tsai said.
Another important factor is that Taiwan should make sure that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) does not monopolize cross-strait engagement.
Tsai said that the DPP’s position on cross-strait relations remains clearly defined by the party’s resolution on Taiwan’s future in 1999, which defines Taiwan as a sovereign country separate from China, while acknowledging that the Republic of China is the nation’s formal title.
“The basic position — that Taiwan’s future should be decided by its 23 million people — will not change,” she said.
As to whether or not the independence clause and the 1999 resolution should be adjusted before the presidential election, Tsai did not give an definitive answer.
Reflecting on her presidential campaign in 2012, Tsai said Beijing wanted Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to be re-elected so that the success of its Taiwan policy would be assured and retained. If Ma lost the election, former Chinese president Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) legacy would have been jeopardized and “heads of Taiwan affairs officials would have rolled.”
The 2016 presidential election will be a new challenge for China, she said, and given that the situation has changed since 2012, the DPP “is confident that it will be able to maintain stable relations with China and that bilateral relations in the future would not be affected by changes of government in Taiwan.”