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Tsai says re-election bid to ensure 'freedom of choice'

2019/02/20 18:03:30

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文)

Taipei, Feb. 20 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Wednesday her main purpose for running for re-election in 2020, a decision she announced in an interview with CNN, is to ensure that generations of Taiwanese will have the freedom to choose their future.

Tsai said in a briefing at the Presidential Office that she hoped to convey through the interview that Taiwan wants to survive on its own and ensure economic prosperity, security, and "our democracy" rather than accept China's "one country, two systems" formula.

It was the latest rebuke of a speech made by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on Jan. 2 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the "Message to Compatriots in Taiwan."

He said China must be reunified, and the "one country, two systems" formula was the best approach to achieving reunification.

Tsai said one of her important duties as president was to safeguard the freedom of choice of future generations, and that this was her future mission and the purpose of her re-election bid.

The president said she decided to announce her plan to run for re-election in the interview with CNN released Tuesday to make her intentions clear to the people and continue full speed ahead.

The interview was also intended to let the voice of Taiwan be heard by the international community and prevent Taiwan from being isolated, she said.

Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered a major defeat in elections for local government leaders in November 2018, but the president regained some political support with her response to Xi's Jan. 2 speech soon after he made it.

In an apparent bid to continue that momentum, she and her party have continued to stress themes related to Taiwan's sovereignty and China's belligerence since then rather than talking about domestic issues.

That was also in evidence at Wednesday's briefing when Tsai criticized opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Chairman Wu Den-yih's (吳敦義) proposal to sign a peace agreement with China if the KMT regains the presidency in 2020.

Tsai said she believed Taiwanese society will not accept any political agreements that would "destroy or harm Taiwan's national sovereignty."

"We are a democratic country and our directions are very clear. We want freedom, democracy, security and prosperity. Taiwan's future should be decided by ourselves," she said.

Senior Taiwan independence advocates have called on Tsai not to run for re-election in 2020, worried that the China-leaning KMT could retake power, but Tsai has resisted such calls.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Yeh Su-ping and Chung Yu-chen)
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