Stalemate is best option for Taiwan-China relations: Singapore PM

China will stick with the 1992 Consensus: Lee

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) w...

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (right) w... (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A stalemate could be the best option for the current state of relations between Taiwan and China, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong reportedly told the Council of Foreign Relations in the United States.

After President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in May last year, China changed its attitude toward Taiwan to frosty, leading to cuts in the number of Chinese tourists and to an apparent return to its old policy of trying to wean away diplomatic allies from the island.

Lee said the best thing to hope for in cross-strait relations might be a stalemate, where Taiwan did not drift further away and the situation did not “go wrong,” a reference to the possible use of military force by China.

Beijing could not abandon the formula it had worked out with the previous Kuomintang administration, the so-called “1992 Consensus,” Lee said. According to the explanation given for the formula in Taiwan, the phrase means that both Taiwan and China agree that there is only one China, but they can each have their own interpretation of what that one China means.

If China drops its insistence on the phrase, it will never be able to go back, as Taiwan under the Tsai Administration has already dropped it, Lee argued. There was a need in Taiwan to go searching for a new official phrase which covered similar ground but looked closer to the ideas of Tsai’s supporters, according to the prime minister of Singapore.

Lee also pointed at the dangers of China’s growing military power, suggesting the situation might once “go wrong.” He added he hoped this situation would occur as late as possible.

Asked what Singapore could do about Taiwan-China relations, Lee replied that there was very little his country could achieve. In 2015, when President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan and President Xi Jinping of China met in Singapore, all the country did was to supply the rooms, the venue and the tea cups, Lee said.