Taiwan Candidate Downplays `One China' While Pledging Trade

Taiwan presidential candidate and current frontrunner denied the existence of a consensus on a one-China principle with the mainland, while pledging to keep the progress of trade agreements on track in the first debate among three presidential candidates ahead of next month’s election.

Tsai Ing-wen, who is chairwoman of Taiwan’s main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, said oversight rules governing agreements with China will be expedited in the next legislative session. The new rules would pave the way for a goods deal with China following a 2013 agreement opening up cross-strait services industries, she said during the two-and-a-half-hour debate with ruling party candidate Eric Chu and People First Party candidate James Soong.

When pressed by Chu about her stance on the one-China principle, Tsai said relations with Taiwan should be based on sincerity and communication and that the 1992 Consensus, an agreement between the Communist Party and Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang on the existence of one China with differing interpretations of that nation, isn’t the only option. China has called the one-China principle the foundation of increased exchanges with Taiwan in recent years.

A Dec. 22 poll by cable news network TVBS showed Tsai leading the race with 46 percent support, while the KMT’s Eric Chu trailed with 26 percent. PFP Chairman Soong, in his third attempt at the presidency, garnered 10 percent support and undecided voters made up 17 percent. TVBS surveyed 1,031 adults in December and the margin of error was 3.1 percentage points.

“We will strive for mutual understanding, to co-exist in spite of our differences, and let cross-strait relations continue to develop,” Tsai said in the debate. “Is this not clear enough?”

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