The office of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has said that leaders across the strait should seek a new model of interaction for a peaceful relationship.

It came in response to a strong-worded speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the 19th National Communist Party Congress on Wednesday. He said the party will defeat any form of Taiwan independence.

Xi’s work report also stressed the One-China principle, the 1992 consensus over a single China, and the peaceful reunification of the country. Beijing considers the island-nation to be a renegade province.

Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping. Photo: Screenshot.

The response from Tsai’s office, however, did not mention the 1992 consensus, which China has repeatedly demanded Tsai recognise. In 1992, both sides agreed to interpret the notion of “one China” by their own definitions.

The response from the office said that it is the responsibility of both sides to maintain peace, stability and people’s wellbeing.

“President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly stressed: ‘Our pledges will not change, and our goodwill will not change. But we will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation,’ this is our fundamental attitude,” it said.

It urged for a mutually beneficial interaction to resolve confrontation and differences.

“The international community understands clearly Taiwan’s effort,” it said.

Tsai’s office also said leaders across the strait, in facing new situations, should work together with determination and patience to seek together a new model of interaction, and to lay the foundation for a long and stable peaceful cross-strait relationship.

Tsai Ing-wen taiwan
Tsai Ing-wen. Photo: Taiwan Presidential Office Flickr.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said it regretted that Xi’s report maintained existing policies, and highlighted China’s “defensive and besieging attitude” towards Taiwan.

“We hope that in this key new moment, when mainland China seeks the increase of its general power and structural reform, it should push for policies on ‘democracy, peace, fairness and justice,’ It should face the cross-strait relationship healthy with a new mindset,” a statement from the Council said.

“Only then it can fulfil its promise of ‘making bold innovations and staying away from rigidity,’ and become the defender of peace of the Taiwan strait and the region.”

The Council said that political differences were not impossible to resolve.

“We solemnly urge the other side of the strait to face a fact – constructing by force a ‘One China principle’ and ‘One Country, Two Systems’ policy can hardly convince the people,” it said. “We can only find common ground by truly respecting Taiwan, understanding Taiwan.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.