By Stephanie Chao — President Tsai Ing-wen restated the nation’s refusal to buckle under pressure from mainland China when meeting with a U.S. delegation over cross-strait issues on Thursday.

In a closed-door meeting in the Presidential Office, Tsai stressed the government’s pledge to maintain stable and peaceful cross-strait ties to a visiting U.S. delegation from Harvard University’s Fairbank Centre for China Studies.

“When faced with handling cross-strait relations, Taiwan will not give in to pressure, or will not make a reversal and go down old paths of conflict,” Tsai said.

Since assuming office on May 20, apart from looking to maintain stable ties, the government has also continuously extended goodwill towards China in hopes that positive interaction could be carried out to lessen the chances of conflict and opposition, Tsai said.

“Yet, incidents have come up recently, creating the general feeling among Taiwanese people that Beijing authorities are reverting back to the ‘old path’ (of conflict) step by step.”

In terms of Taiwan-U.S. relations, the president also emphasised that the U.S. remains a high-priority security and economic partner, vowing to continue to maintain tight-knit relations.

“(I) believe the U.S. government and Congress will continue to uphold the Taiwan Relations Act, the Six Assurances and fulfil security promises made to Taiwan.”

Visiting Scholars

Many of the visitors were heavyweight scholars and experts on Asian and cross-strait issues and research, Tsai added. “They have kept an eye on the developing relations between Taiwan, China and the U.S. in the past.”

These scholars have been active in the three locations through talks, observations and extended stays, Tsai said, pointing out that the Fairbank Center has also hosted a series of seminars covering topics such as Taiwanese politics, cross-strait relations, the economic situation in Asia and U.S.-Taiwan ties.

Tsai said,”(I) believe everyone’s opinions could become a reference point for us to consider in the future.”

In the closed-door meeting, Tsai met with delegation members such as Harvard University’s Fairbank Centre for Chinese Studies head of Taiwan studies Steven Goldstein, Boston University International Relations and Political Science Professor Joseph Fewsmith and Boston College Political Science Professor Robert S. Ross.

Tsai previously made similar remarks during a year-end media gathering on Dec. 31, saying that Beijing has slowly returned to old practices such as creating dissent and a fractioned Taiwan, and employing pressuring and threatening tactics.

She said that Beijing’s actions were harmful towards Taiwanese peoples’ feelings and would only serve to affect regional peace and stability.

Regarding the cross-strait difficulties, Tsai urged the nation that “(we) must first understand our own standing before seeking to develop cross-strait ties… prioritisation must not be confused.”

More important is reaching an internal consensus, she added. “Also, the nation should not forget that Taiwan as a sovereign, independent state is a collective consensus.”