TAIPEI – The situation in the Taiwan Straits is “complex and bleak,” Chinese President Xi Jinping wrote in a congratulatory letter to the newly elected leader of Taiwan’s main opposition party, who vowed to resume talks with Beijing. .
Taiwan’s Kuomintang (KMT) elected former New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu as its leader on Saturday, who said he will rekindle stalled high-level contacts with the ruling Communist Party of China.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory and has stepped up military and political pressure to force the democratically governed island to accept Chinese sovereignty, even though most Taiwanese have shown no interest in being ruled by Beijing.
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In Xi’s letter, a copy of which was published by the KMT, he said the two sides had had “good interactions” based on their joint opposition to Taiwan’s independence.
“At present, the situation in the Taiwan Straits is complex and bleak. All the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation must work together with one heart and move forward together,” wrote Xi, who also heads the Communist Party.
He expressed hope that both sides can cooperate in “seeking peace in the Taiwan Strait, seeking national reunification and seeking national revitalization.”
Chu, who badly lost the 2016 presidential election to incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen, responded to Xi that the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait were “all children of the Yellow Emperor,” in other words, all Han Chinese.
Chu blamed Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for tensions with Beijing after pursuing anti-China policies.
Chu, who met Xi in China in 2015, said he hoped to “seek common ground and respect differences, increase mutual trust and cordiality, strengthen exchanges and cooperation to enable the continued peaceful development of relations through of the Strait “.
Under the 17-month term of outgoing KMT leader Johnny Chiang, high-level contacts with China stalled amid military tensions and suspicions in Beijing, the party was not sufficiently committed to the idea that Taiwan was part of “one China”.
In addition to losing the 2016 election, the KMT was defeated in elections last year after failing to shake the DPP’s accusations that they were lackeys of Beijing.
China refuses to speak to Tsai, calling her a separatist. She says that Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, the island’s formal name, and that only the people of Taiwan have the right to decide their own future.