Tsai-Ma Meeting: Aiming for a Smooth and Cooperative Power Transition

Tsai-Ma Meeting: Aiming for a Smooth and Cooperative Power Transition
Photo Credit: AP/達志影像
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On the morning of March 30, President Ma Ying-jeou has met with President-elect Tsai Ing-wen to discuss the handover of power.

Held at the Taipei Guest House, President Ma held a closed-door meeting with Tsai discussing matters of national security such as cross-strait relations, diplomatic, and defense matters while touching on energy and education issues as well.

Beforehand, they both gave a short opening statement that touched upon Taiwan’s democracy and the mutual wish for a smooth and cooperative power transition between now until May 20. Tsai expressed the desire to set up mechanisms that would smoothen future transitions of power between any president and president-elect.

When they met, President Ma and President-elect Tsai shared a short quirky conversation:

A smiling Ma greeted Tsai, “Long time no see."
She responded wryly, “I see you on television."
“As do I," he quickly replied.

During the lead up to the meeting, Tsai emphasized her main focus to be on economic growth and social welfare, while in contrast to President Ma she is not placing focus on Taiwan’s relationship with Beijing. She previously rejected the request from Beijing to emphasize that Taiwan and China are of one nation.

Beijing’s Ire

Commenting on the matter, Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson An Fengshan criticized Tsai’s choice. He warned that ties would suffer if she does not recognize the 1992 Consensus as the cornerstone of cross-strait relations during President Ma’s administration. An further elaborated the Consensus “is the precedent and political foundation stone.”

When Tsai takes office on May 20, it is widely expected that her administration would adopt a tougher line against China. She, however, is still reportedly open to the proposed meeting in Panama with President Xi Jinping in June. While China’s reaction was lukewarm, Tsai promised to give it a “priority consideration.”

►Related News: A Tsai-Xi Meeting? Debates Rise Among Uncertainty of Cross-strait Relations

Tsai’s decision on the meeting at Panama may influence Taiwan’s important diplomatic ties to the country due to China’s increasing influence.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Sources:
“Taiwan’s president-elect Tsai Ing-wen has dilemma as Panama invites her and President Xi Jinping to same ceremony" (South China Morning Post)
“Ma urges cooperation before meeting with Tsai" (Focus Taiwan)
“Outgoing, incoming presidents meet the first time" (Taiwan News)
“Taiwan’s outgoing leader, successor pledge smooth transition" (AP)
“Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and new leader Tsai Ing-wen pledge to work on smooth power transition" (The Straits Times)
“Taiwan’s president-elect Tsai Ing-wen calls for cooperation with KMT during transition of power" (South China Morning Post)
“Taiwan leaders meet to discuss power transition" (rthk.hk)