Taipei, Former President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) on Saturday accused the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) administration of pushing Taiwan to the brink of war with China, drawing the ire of Tsai and her officials, who said that peace cannot be achieved by being weak on sovereignty issues.
“A person entrusted by the people to lead the country should never have such unrealistic fantasies,” Tsai wrote on her Facebook page. “He or she should never think that bowing and scraping on the issue of sovereignty, or staying mum on democratic values, would bring so-called peace to the people.”
Tsai posted the comment in response to a presentation by former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at a security forum earlier in the day, in which he said the “erroneous national policy” of the current administration in Taiwan was pushing the country to the brink of a war.
Ma of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) said the Taiwan administration was siding with the United States against China and was unwilling to recognize the “1992 Consensus,” policies that had led to increased tensions across the strait.
Taiwan risks getting caught in the middle of the power struggle between the U.S. and China, Ma said.
Responding to Ma’s comments, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), the Taiwan government agency responsible for China policy, said Saturday that the tensions across the strait are not a result of Taipei’s national policy but rather Beijing’s expansionist goals and its ambition to take over Taiwan.
Furthermore, there is no space for Taiwan’s existence within China’s interpretation of the “1992 Consensus,” MAC said, citing a policy speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on September 20, 2019.
The “1992 Consensus” refers to a tacit agreement reached in 1992 between the then-KMT government and Chinese officials in Hong Kong, which the KMT says allows both sides of the Taiwan Strait to acknowledge there is only “one China,” with each side free to interpret what “China” means.
Beijing, however, has never publicly recognized the second part of the KMT’s interpretation, according to the MAC.
Taiwan will continue to strengthen its defense capabilities and work with the U.S. and other democratic countries to resist authoritarian regimes, MAC said.
“Bowing to China will not keep Taiwan safe,” it said.
Meanwhile, Presidential Office spokesperson Alex Huang (黃重諺) said it is “highly regrettable” that Ma, a former president, sees the Taiwanese people’s love of freedom and democracy as a provocation to Beijing.
“Those who have a basic understanding of international relations know it is China, not Taiwan, that has been threatening regional security and stability with unilateral action, including military options,” Huang said.
“Protecting the nation’s sovereignty, freedom, and democracy is the responsibility of our president,” he said. “It should not be interpreted as a provocation (to China).”
Executive Yuan spokesperson Ting Yi-ming (丁怡銘) also took issue with Ma’s statement, saying the former president was singing Beijing’s tune with his warnings of war.
Some observers fear that the Taiwan Strait has become a new flash point, amid the U.S. and China’s tussle for regional influence. Over the past months, the two superpowers have stepped up their military presence in the region, increasing the passage of fighter planes and warships.
China has also been conducting more frequent large-scale military exercises near Taiwan, with one reportedly held last week during a visit to Taiwan by U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel