Taiwan's leader Tsai calls for dialogue with China as 2nd term begins

20, May. 2020

TAIPEI, Kyodo - Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen called for dialogue with China but rejected unification with the mainland under Beijing's "one country, two systems" principle as she began her second and final term on Wednesday.

Tsai made the call for dialogue in her inauguration speech after taking the oath of office at her swearing-in ceremony at the presidential office in Taipei.

(Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivers an inauguration speech after taking the oath of office for her second term on May 20, 2020.)</p><p>
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</p><p>[Central News Agency/Kyodo]
(Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivers an inauguration speech after taking the oath of office for her second term on May 20, 2020.)

[Central News Agency/Kyodo]

"Here, I want to reiterate the words -- peace, parity, democracy and dialogue. We will not accept the Beijing authorities' use of one country, two systems to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo. We stand fast by this principle," she said.

Tsai began her second term on a high note, having gained broad public support after successfully guiding the self-governed island in its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But Taiwan under Tsai, leader of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, faces a China eager to undermine Taipei's quest for international recognition and finds itself entangled in an increasingly strained U.S.-China relationship.

Tsai comfortably won re-election in January after many voters embraced her staunch opposition to the unification model proposed by China, a stance she first made clear in January 2019.

The Tsai government, which was launched in May 2016, enjoys about a 70 percent support rate among the public for its handling of the virus outbreak on the island, opinion surveys show.

Taiwan's success in stemming the spread of the virus also won plaudits from the international community, helping bring attention to Taiwan's absence from the World Health Organization and China's efforts to keep it out.

China and Taiwan split after a civil war in 1949, with the Chinese communists establishing their government in Beijing and the Nationalist Party retreating to rule Taiwan.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting unification, by force if necessary.

Taiwan's presidents have been directly elected since 1996 and can serve up to two four-year terms. Tsai's predecessor, Ma Ying-jeou of the Nationalist Party, was president from 2008 to 2016.

William Lai, who was premier from September 2017 to January 2019 and who unsuccessfully challenged Tsai in last year's presidential primary, serves as vice president in her second term.

Premier Su Tseng-chang, Taiwan's head of government appointed by the president, continues to serve in the same position. (Kyodo)