Beijing warned Taiwan it would cut off critical contacts with the island if its new president Tsai Ing-wen does not state her support for the concept that there is only “one China”, state media reported Saturday.
The comments came a day after Beijing-sceptic Tsai’s inauguration speech, where she called for “positive dialogue” with the Chinese mainland, but stopped short of any compromise on Beijing’s demands that she back its “one China” principle.
That principle was recognised by outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang party, who oversaw an eight-year rapprochement between the former bitter rivals.
Although Taiwan is self-ruling after splitting with the mainland in 1949 following a civil war, it has never formally declared independence and Beijing still sees it as part of its territory awaiting reunification.
Beijing is highly suspicious of Tsai, whose Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is traditionally pro-independence and has warned her against any attempt at a breakaway.
Beijing and Taipei have held regular, official communications since 2014, but that will stop unless Tsai acknowledges the “1992 consensus”, said Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, according to a report by the official Xinhua news service.
The tacit agreement followed a 1992 meeting between Chinese officials and the KMT which laid out the “one China” ideology, but allowed each side its own interpretation.
“The communications mechanism between the two departments can only continue if the ’92 consensus’, which represents the common political foundation of the One China principle, is adhered to,” Xinhua quoted Ma as saying.
Tsai and the DPP have never acknowledged the consensus. In her speech Friday, Tsai reiterated her previous stance of recognising the 1992 meeting took place, but did not endorse its conclusions.
Unofficial communication mechanisms will also be at risk, Chinese authorities said.
The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), a semi-official organisation that works with its Taiwanese counterpart, the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), deals with issues that are too legally or politically delicate to be handled through official government channels.
“As long as SEF receives authorisation to confirm to ARATS the adherence to the ’92 consensus’ authorised negotiations and contact between the two organisations can be maintained,” Xinhua quoted the head of ARATS as saying, without giving a specific name.
The two organisations, which have played a critical role in improving ties between Taipei and Beijing, renewed contact in 2008, following almost a decade of tension that ended with the election of Ma.