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Thursday, June 18, 2015, 17:10

Anti-separatist Taiwan candidate welcome: Mainland

By Agencies

Anti-separatist Taiwan candidate welcome: Mainland
Hung Hsiu-chu, Taiwan's deputy parliamentary speaker, speaks after an interviewed by a local radio station in Taipei on June 18, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / Sam Yeh)
BEIJING - The Chinese mainland on Thursday made it clear that it would welcome only an anti-independence candidate at Taiwan's "presidential" election in January, offering its first comment on the likely contender for the island's pro-Beijing ruling Nationalist Party.

The vote in China's Taiwan is shaping as a contest between two women, deputy parliamentary speaker Hung Hsiu-chu from the Nationalists and the pro-independence opposition Democratic Progressive Party's candidate, Tsai Ing-wen.

On Wednesday, Hung moved a step closer to securing the Nationalists' nomination, after top party officials approved her bid.

In a brief statement carried by the official Xinhua news agency, the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said he had "noted" the news about Hung, but added, "We do not get involved in, or comment on, the Taiwan election".

"We welcome any Taiwan party or person as long as they oppose Taiwan independence, recognise the 1992 consensus and promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations," Ma added.

The "1992 consensus" refers to "one China" principle.

Hung advocates a more pro-mainland policy and has publicly said she would like to sign a peace treaty with the mainland.

China has criticized Tsai in recent weeks, saying she needs to clearly explain her policy towards the mainland and how she intends to keep peace between the two sides.

The Nationalists had not been able to nail down a candidate for months, as Tsai raced to a big lead in opinion polls.

In a poll late on Wednesday, 50.2 percent of respondents said they would vote for Tsai, while Hung's support trailed at 29.3 percent, the Cross-Strait Policy Association said.

Since 2008, the island has signed a series of landmark trade and economic pacts with the mainland.

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