China cuts communication channel with Taiwan

Decision attributed to island’s refusal to recognise “one China” principle as tensions rise between the two governments.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen walks past an attendant during an inauguration ceremony in Taipei
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen says she wants to maintain the status quo with China [File: Reuters]

The Chinese government has announced it halted a communication channel with Taiwan owing to the self-ruled island’s refusal to recognise the “one China” principle.

China, which regards Taiwan as a wayward province, is deeply suspicious of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who took office last month, as they suspect she will push for formal independence. 

Tsai, who heads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, says she wants to maintain the status quo with China and is committed to ensuring peace.

The regular communication mechanism had been ushered in following a rapid improvement of ties under the rule of Taiwan’s then-president Ma Ying-jeou, who took office in 2008 and signed a series of trade and tourism deals with China.

READ MORE: China’s President Xi – Taiwan never to ‘split’ again

“In a way this announcement is much ado about nothing. No one really expected the Chinese Communist Party to establish formal talks with Taiwan anyway,” Andreas Fulda, senior fellow at the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, told Al Jazeera.

“In a sense, I read this to mean communication to the domestic audience rather than anything substantial to frustrate relations.”

China has insisted Tsai recognise the “1992 consensus” reached between China’s Communists and Taiwan’s then-ruling Nationalists, under which both agreed there is only ‘one China’, with each having their own interpretation of what that means.

In a brief statement carried by the official Chinese news agency Xinhua, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that since May 20, when Tsai took office, Taiwan has not affirmed this consensus.

Historic day for China-Taiwan relations

“Because the Taiwan side has not acknowledged the 1992 consensus, this joint political basis for showing the one China principle, the cross Taiwan Strait contact and communication mechanism has already stopped,” An Fengshan, the spokesman for the office, said.

The announcement came as Taiwan expressed anger at Cambodia’s deportation to China of 25 Taiwanese nationals wanted on fraud charges on Friday, ignoring attempts by Taiwanese officials to have them returned to the island.

“It is a highly unusal act and it seems counterintuitive because if the Chinese Communist Party was keen to win the hearts and minds of the Taiwanese it wouldn’t engage in these kind of activities,” said Fulda.

“In a way we see Taiwan certainly, but also possibly Hong Kong, at the periphery moving further away from China rather than unifying.”

Defeated Nationalist forces fled to Taiwan after a civil war with the Communists in 1949, which has never formally ended. China has also never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Ma Ying-jeou: ‘One country, one system’

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies