BEIJING (AP) — Beijing said Saturday it had cut off contact with the main Taiwan liaison body because of President Tsai Ing-wen’s refusal to endorse the concept of a single Chinese nation, ratcheting up pressure on the new Taiwanese leader.
In a statement posted on the website of the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, spokesman An Fengshan said contacts between bodies responsible for ties had been suspended starting from Tsai’s May 20 inauguration.
“Because the Taiwan side has been unable to confirm the ’92 consensus that embodies the common political foundation of the one-China principle, the mechanism for contact and communication between the two sides has already been suspended,” the statement quoted An as saying.
The ’92 consensus refers to an arrangement made in 1992 under which both sides acknowledged the existence of a single Chinese nation comprising both Taiwan and the mainland. That understanding underpinned dialogue between the sides that allowed them to build ties and partially overcome enmity stemming from their bitter split amid the Chinese civil war in 1949. Tsai has neither formally endorsed nor repudiated the construct.
The Chinese statement, which came after Taiwan protested Cambodia’s deportation of 25 Taiwanese internet scam suspects to China, appears to signify a significant step in retaliation for Tsai’s pro-Taiwanese independence stance.
Although China says Taiwan has been part of its territory since ancient times, the sides have only been unified for four of the past 120 years. Taiwan functions as an independent country and does not acknowledge Beijing’s claim of authority over it.
Speculation has been rife since Tsai’s inauguration that China would take measures to compel her to endorse the “one-China principle” that Beijing says underpins all political contacts between the sides.
Tsai departed Friday on her first overseas trip since taking office last month, amid speculation that China may seek to tighten its diplomatic stranglehold over the island.
Tsai left on separate visits to allies Panama and Paraguay, stopping in Miami on the way out and in Los Angeles on the way home. She is due to attend the formal opening of new ship locks on the Panama Canal before delivering a speech to Paraguay’s parliament on Tuesday.
Taiwan has formal diplomatic relations with just 22 nations as a result of Chinese imposed isolation. Most allies are in Central America, the Caribbean, Africa and the South Pacific.
A renewed effort to win away Taiwan’s remaining allies would further indicate China plans to get tough on Tsai’s administration.
China in March established formal diplomatic ties with the small African nation of Gambia, which had severed relations with Taiwan in 2013. That was seen as a move toward abandoning the unspoken diplomatic truce between the sides that lasted for eight years under Tsai’s China-friendly predecessor.