Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman and 2016 presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen wrapped up a 10 day visit to the United States on Monday, where she announced her foreign policy principles during a keynote speech in Washington DC.
This is Tsai’s second run at Taiwan’s top office. In 2012, she lost to incumbent president Ma Ying-jeou by 6 percentage points. At the time, many thought the DPP’s pro-independence platform was the “last obstacle” to retaking power. This sparked an ongoing debate about the DPP’s stance towards China, especially whether it should accept the so-called 1992 Consensus.
The 1992 Consensus has Taiwan agree that there is only one China (which includes Taiwan), with Taiwan interpreting that as its own Republic of China regime. The DPP has not accepted, nor recognized, this description of the Taiwan-China relationship. However, China has said it will not deal with any administration that does not accept the 1992 Consensus, and Ma Ying-jeou credits deepening relations with China on his adherence to the 1992 Consensus.
During the keynote speech at CSIS in Washington, Tsai fielded questions about the 1992 Consensus and the DPP’s China stance. She said that the Taiwanese public has a “broad consensus” over maintaining the “status quo,” and she will push for peaceful and stable development of cross straits relations “in accordance with the will of the Taiwanese people” and “the existing ROC constitutional order,” based on the accumulated outcomes of twenty-plus years of interacting with the PRC.
She later said at a separate press conference that “accumulated outcomes” include the fact that in 1992 both sides agreed to disagree in order to move the relationship forward.
Tsai also visited the White House and the State Department to meet with US officials. This is the first time ever the US received a Taiwanese presidential candidate at this level.
As Tsai receives warm welcomes from US officials and supporters, the trip is widely seen as a success for Tsai and the DPP. In contrast, during the 2012 campaign, an anonymous senior US official warned that a DPP victory would raise tensions in the Taiwan Strait. Because of this comment, many believed the US unfairly picked sides in Taiwan’s election.
On her last stop in San Francisco, she visited Cisco and Facebook to discuss the tech industry. She said that there are very few desirable jobs available to the younger generation, and will push to reform regulations to be more friendly to startups and foreign talent.
(Feature photo of Tsai Ing-wen visiting Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley, by Chieh-Ting Yeh)