After a year in office, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration is shunned by an angry China and facing even greater international isolation.
Yet, the island’s first female president seems focused on policy initiatives at home as well as maintaining robust relations with the United States, Taiwan’s most important source of arms and political support.
“I am expecting the leaders on the other side of the Taiwan Strait to accurately interpret the meaning of last year’s presidential elections, and the good intentions that Taiwan tirelessly showed,” she said in a speech to overseas Chinese media representatives on Friday. “This is a new era, because the Taiwanese people say so.”
China cut contacts with Taiwan on June 25 to protest Tsai’s refusal to endorse Beijing’s view that the two sides are part of a single Chinese nation. President Donald Trump’s administration, at least initially, seemed poised to offer new support.
The then-president elect astonished many by talking directly on the phone with Tsai in December, a conversation not held between leaders of the two sides since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979. He then further stirred the pot by questioning the need to hold to the “One China” policy under which Washington maintains only unofficial ties with Taipei.
Soon afterward, however, he reasserted his support for “One China,” resulting in Chinese President Xi Jinping flying to Trump’s Mar-a-lago resort for an informal summit in April and last week’s announcement of a trade deal under which China will again allow imports of American beef and purchase natural gas from the U.S.
China says it cannot resume normal interactions unless Tsai endorsed the “One China” principle, also known as “’92 consensus.”
The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and China continues to regard Taiwan as part of its territory, to be recovered by force if necessary. Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party advocates Taiwan’s formal independence as…