June 2, 2015 / 9:25 AM / 3 years ago

Taiwan pro-independence leader calls for more open dialogue with China

TAIPEI (Reuters) - The presidential hopeful for Taiwan’s pro-independence opposition party, Tsai Ing-wen, has called for a more sustainable and consistent relationship with China as she rallies U.S. government and business leaders for support.

Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen waves to reporters after speaking during a news conference in Taipei April 15, 2015. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

The chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is on a 12-day, six-city visit to the United States to drum up support ahead of the island’s presidential vote slated for January 2016.

Beijing is highly suspicious of the DPP, and its concerns about the pro-independence movement were exacerbated last year when thousands of young Taiwanese occupied the island’s parliament in an unprecedented protest against a planned trade pact involving closer ties with the mainland.

In an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Tsai wrote that “a more consistent and sustainable relationship with China will be a core goal of my administration”.

“That requires open channels of communication, both with China’s leadership and the Taiwanese people,” said Tsai, who added that the massive sit-in demonstration in parliament was a result of local citizens feeling “left out of the discussion” about the future of ties between the two sides.

The protests were primarily driven by young Taiwanese suspicious about autocratic China’s intentions surrounding the democratically-ruled island.

Following the protests, the ruling party Nationalists were routed in local elections in November.

Tsai’s visit to the United States, the island’s strongest ally, is seen as important to assuage concerns that a DPP-led government would increase tensions between Taiwan and China.

China deems Taiwan a renegade province to be retaken by force if necessary particular if it makes moves toward independence.

Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Jeremy Laurence

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