TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan’s president began his second term Sunday and signaled he will maintain a China policy that has reduced tensions between the sides, offering Beijing little early hope of realizing its long-term goal of unification.
Speaking at a low-key inaugural ceremony in Taipei’s ornate presidential office building, Ma Ying-jeou hewed to the same formula for relations across the 160-kilometer-wide (100-mile-wide) Taiwan Strait he championed during his first term.
“Our cross-strait policy must maintain the status quo of ‘no unification, no independence and no use of force,’” Ma said.
He reaffirmed his support for the so-called 1992 Consensus, an informal agreement reached by representatives of the sides accepting that there is only one China — and not one China, and one Taiwan, which is the stance of many in Taiwan’s pro-independence opposition. But Ma enunciated his position in a way apparently calculated to leave hard-liners in Beijing disappointed.
“When we speak of one China, naturally it is the Republic of China,” he said.
The Republic of China is the exiled government that Nationalist icon Chiang Kai-shek brought with him to Taiwan in 1949, when Mao Zedong’s Communist forces prevailed in the Chinese civil war.
Beijing sees it as a historical relic that lost its legitimacy when Mao proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China 63 years ago. Since then, Chinese leaders have always insisted that Taiwan must be brought under their control, by persuasion if possible, by force if necessary.
Ma won re-election in January largely by assuring voters that he would safeguard their hard-won democratic freedoms, while simultaneously moving forward with his signature policy of tying Taiwan’s high-tech economy ever closer to China’s lucrative markets. That formula has helped to lower cross-strait tensions to their lowest level in six decades.
His remarks on Sunday — reaffirming his opposition to unification and his fealty to the Republic of China — make it clear that he still supports that path.
Despite Ma’s relatively comfortable re-election victory — he won by six percentage points — he begins his second term under the shadow of deep-seated voter dissatisfaction with his overall performance. A particular focus is his economic policies, including a recent decision to raise utility rates.
Tens of thousands of anti-Ma protesters gathered in downtown Taipei on Saturday to demonstrate against those policies. Wearing red and green armbands emblazoned with the Chinese character for “anger,” the demonstrators snaked their way through the streets of the capital before gathering in front of the presidential office building under a light drizzle.
More Related Stories
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11