President Tsai says Taiwan willing to hold dialogue with Beijing

10/10/2020 02:22 PM
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President Tsai Ing-wen. CNA photo Oct. 10, 2020
President Tsai Ing-wen. CNA photo Oct. 10, 2020

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Saturday expressed willingness to hold "meaningful dialogue" with the leadership of Beijing to have peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

"At this stage, the most pressing cross-strait issue is to discuss how we can live in peace and coexist based on mutual respect, goodwill and understanding," Tsai said during her Republic of China National Day address.

"As long as the Beijing authorities are willing to resolve antagonisms and improve cross-strait relations, while parity and dignity are maintained, we are willing to work together to facilitate meaningful dialogue," she said.

Tsai's statement came at a time when the already sour cross-strait relations further deteriorated over recent months with Taiwan and the United States showing closer engagements, such as high-level visits by U.S. officials and more arms sales to Taiwan.

U.S. Health Secretary Alex Azar and Under Secretary of State Keith Krach visited Taiwan in August and in September, trips that Beijing frowned on as it considers Taiwan as part of its territory and opposes official contact that implies a promotion of Taiwan's status as an independent nation.

Earlier in July, the U.S. approved a request by Taiwan for the recertification of its Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) air defense missiles, after giving the nod to sell 66 F-16V fighter jets and 108 M1A2T tanks to Taiwan last year.

Last month, the Reuters news agency reported that the U.S. was planning to sell seven major weapons systems to Taiwan, although Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) dismissed it as "speculation."

Beijing has responded to these developments by carrying out more military exercises, including flying its warplanes into one of Taiwan's air defense identification zones (ADIZs), as tensions rise between the two sides.

According to MND records, Chinese military assets have conducted at least 15 incursions into airspace or waters near Taiwan in less than one month, with the biggest show of force seen on Sept. 19, when 19 Chinese war planes either crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait or entered Taiwan's southwest ADIZ.

Responding to such security threats, Tsai said during her address that maintaining adequate defense capabilities is the only way to guarantee Taiwan's safety and regional peace.

"We will continue to modernize defensive combat capabilities and accelerate the upgrading of our asymmetrical capabilities to deal with military expansion and provocation from the other side of the Taiwan Strait," Tsai said.

She stressed that Taiwan will uphold its principle of neither fearing nor seeking war to avoid potential conflicts due to miscalculations. She pointed out that maintaining stability is in the best interest of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

"We are committed to upholding cross-strait stability, but this is not something Taiwan can shoulder alone; it is the joint responsibility of both sides," she said.

Tsai also expressed hope for a genuine change by China, pointing out that its leader Xi Jinping (習近平) has pledged that Beijing will never seek hegemony and expansion during the recently concluded United Nations General Assembly.

(By Emerson Lim)

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