Published: 11:16, January 12, 2020 | Updated: 09:00, June 6, 2023
Tsai has opportunity to mend her ways

This undated photo shows the night view of Taipei 101, Taiwan, China. (PHOTO/VCG)

Having secured another four years as the leader of Taiwan on Saturday, it is an opportunity for Tsai Ing-wen to recalibrate her approach to cross-Straits relations for the benefit of the island and its residents.

By dialing down the confrontational approach she has taken toward Beijing, she would not only ease the cross-Straits tensions, which have been rapidly worsening over the past couple of years, but also prevent the island being recklessly used by Washington as a pawn in its games.

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Despite Tsai's secessionist stance, the mainland has continued to open-up to Taiwan compatriots, who now enjoy the same treatment in more and more fields

It was the landslide defeat for her Democratic Progressive in the mid-term local elections on the island in late 2018 that prompted Tsai to resort to more desperate measures to reverse the situation.

Thus in the second half of her first term with her confrontational stance hitting the island's economy, Tsai became more unscrupulous in displaying her secessionist colors in order to curry favor with the US. She eventually tapped into the upheaval instigated by the US in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in order to demonize the "one country, two systems" framework, which Beijing has also proposed for the island.

The climax of Tsai's efforts to create a pro-secessionist atmosphere on the island came at the end of last year, when the DPP forced through the island's so-called Anti-Infiltration Law, irrespective of wide social opposition, to legalize its power to not only indentify and label "infiltrators", but also punish them. Which is nothing but a scheme to enshroud the island in a McCarthy-style witch hunt to its own advantage.

The Tsai administration had to have turned to extreme tactics in order to cover up her inability to address more practical problems on the island, such as the chronic shortages of electricity, freshwater, land, talents and demographic growth; along with weak consumption, lopsided industrial and trade structures and the less-than-ideal job market all of which her administration has so far left unattended.

Despite Tsai's secessionist stance, the mainland has continued to open-up to Taiwan compatriots, who now enjoy the same treatment in more and more fields. By clinging to the DPP mindset and ideology of the DPP she is only serving the self-interests of her party rather than the welfare of the public.

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Tsai should accept that whether she chooses to acknowledge it or not, she cannot reverse the ever-deepening cross-Straits integration. Taiwan's reunification with the motherland is an unstoppable historical trend and Beijing will never allow any pro-independence forces to separate Taiwan from China under any name or in any form. Now that she has secured a second term in office, she should give up the illusion of counting on Washington to promote independence and act on the reality.

Having grabbed onto the coattails of the United States' maximum pressure strategy against the Chinese mainland as her political lifeline, she should now let go. Tsai should keep in mind her reelection does not mean the Taiwan voters support the DPP's separatist push and the majority of Taiwan compatriots want cross-Straits peace and stability, which ensures better livelihoods. That will not be secured if Tsai continues to make provocative moves. Continuing to push for separatism will only aggravate confrontation with the mainland.