by Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Amid reports of intensifying contacts between Taiwan and the United States, Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen said Friday she would cooperate with all sides to maintain peace with China if she was elected on January 16.
The US State Department said Thursday that present and former officials would travel to Beijing and Taipei in the wake of Saturday’s presidential and legislative elections, which Tsai is widely expected to win. The trips have been interpreted by some commentators as signs that Washington is concerned about the future of Taiwan-China relations.
Tsai said that she thanked the US for the attention it paid to the democratic elections in Taiwan and for its declaration that it intended to cooperate with the new government to take over after the polls. The opposition leader said she would cooperate with all sides concerned in order to maintain peace across the Taiwan Straits.
During her campaign, Tsai has touted “maintaining the status quo” as the core of her policy toward China. Critics have accused her of being too vague, but others have said the new wording is a move away from the trend toward Taiwan Independence under the previous DPP government, under President Chen Shui-bian from 2000 to 2008.
Joseph Wu, the party’s secretary general and official representative to the US, was scheduled to leave for Washington shortly after the election. He was planning to meet with government officials, politicians and top academics, reports said.
Tsai refused to confirm reports that another of her key aides, former Finance Minister Lin Chuan, would visit China.
The US envoy to visit Taiwan was former Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who would meet President Ma Ying-jeou, who stays in office until May 20, as well as Tsai and her main election rival, Kuomintang Chairman Eric Liluan Chu.
In China between January 14 and January 21, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken was likely to meet with Zhang Zhijun, head of the Chinese government’s Taiwan Affairs Office.