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September 20, 2017

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Tsai rejects deadline for accepting '92 Consensus'

Claims that President Tsai Ing-wen rejected the "1992 Consensus" in an interview with the Washington Post were refuted by the Presidential Office Friday, which stressed that Tsai was only responding to the question at hand.

In a Q&A posted on the Washington Post website, senior associate editor Lally Weymouth asked whether it was correct that some academics said mainland China leader Xi had set a certain deadline by which he wanted her to agree to the "1992 Consensus."

In response, Tsai said, "it isn't likely that the government of Taiwan will accept a deadline for conditions that are against the will of the people."

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang clarified that Tsai was only responding to the part of the question about a "certain deadline set by Chinese authorities."

On the topic of Tsai's stance on the "1992 Consensus," Huang reiterated that the president made her position clear in her May 20 inauguration speech and denied that she rejected the consensus during the interview, as argued by experts and the media.

The interview marks Tsai's first with a foreign newspaper since taking office, and will be published in print on July 24.

First-ever Official Refusal: Chinese Media

Tsai's response was interpreted by Chinese state-media Global Times as the first time she had officially refused to accept the "1992 Consensus." It was announced on the media outlet's Weibo account.

Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) reiterated that safeguarding the peaceful development of cross-strait relations is the goal shared by both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Only through accepting the "1992 Consensus" and agreeing that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to "one China" will the continuation of peaceful cross-strait relations be guaranteed, Ma said.

The "1992 Consensus" refers to a tacit understanding under which both sides of the Taiwan Strait recognize the existence of "one China" and agree to differ on its definition.

Tsai's seperatist Democratic Progressive Party has never accepted the "1992 Consensus."

Gov't Must Follow

Public Will: Tsai

As The Washington Post article posted online contained only an abridged version of the interview, the Presidential Office released a transcript of the full interview Friday.

While the interview was held mostly in Mandarin Chinese with an interpreter at hand, Tsai cut in several times to clarify her response in English, according to Huang.

The full transcript contains some remarks not included in the Washington Post article, including Tsai stating that she believes in Xi's ability to make an "excellent" and "correct" decision regarding cross-strait relations based on "all available information."

In the transcript, Tsai goes into further detail about her refusal to accept any deadline from Beijing, with the president stressing that the government must abide by public opinion because Taiwan is an "extremely democratic place."

"I also believe that they (mainland China) should have that understanding," she says in the transcript.

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