Taiwan’s new president Tsai Ing-wen called for “positive dialogue” with China in her much-anticipated inauguration speech Friday, striking a conciliatory tone in the face of an increasingly hostile Beijing.
“The two governing parties across the strait must set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue, for the benefit of the people on both sides,” she said in the speech outside the presidential office in Taipei after being sworn in.
China still sees self-ruling Taiwan as part of its territory and is putting growing pressure on Beijing-sceptic Tsai to back its “one China” message, as relations rapidly cool after a rapprochement under outgoing leader Ma Ying-jeou.
Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party have never backed the “one China” concept, unlike outgoing leader Ma Ying-jeou who oversaw an eight-year rapprochement with Beijing.
While she showed no sign of backing down from that stance, Tsai sought to cast Taiwan as a cross-strait peacemaker, countering Beijing’s view of the new government as a source of instability.
“Cross-strait relations have become an integral part of building regional peace and collective security,” she told an audience of 20,000 who regularly cheered and applauded.
“In this process, Taiwan will be a ‘staunch guardian of peace’ that actively participates and is never absent.”