Taiwan’s pro-independence main opposition party on Sunday rejected suggestions that it was poised to radically shift its long-standing policy on mainland China, four months before elections.
“I do not rule out any possibility… as long as Taiwan people support it,” the presidential candidate of the Democratic Progressive Party said when asked if unification with China was an option, according to a report.
The Taipei-based United Daily News said Tsai Ing-wen made the comments during a press conference in New York on Saturday.
“That report is an overstatement of Tsai’s remarks,” DPP spokesman Liang Wen-chieh said in a statement.
“What Tsai means, is that as Taiwan people are still divided over national identification, all people with different opinions should be respected. To the DPP, democracy has a value to be given top priority.
“But that by no means that unification is the party’s option or thinking.”
Tsai, who would become Taiwan’s first female president if she wins the January election against incumbent Ma Ying-jeou, said last week during a speech at a think-tank in Washington that she would not whip up tensions with China if elected.
Beijing still sees the self-ruled island as part of its territory awaiting reunification – by force if necessary – even though China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.
Under the previous president Chen Shui-bian, of the DPP, ties with China were uneasy as the party pushed for formal independence for the island. The highly sensitive issue also frayed relations with the United States.
But Taipei-Beijing ties have improved markedly since Ma, of the China-friendly Kuomintang, came to power in 2008.