President reiterates willingness to engage with Beijing on equal terms
Taipei, Oct. 31 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said during a meeting of senior national security officials on Saturday that she remains willing to engage in "substantive dialogue" with the Chinese leadership on equal terms, but cautioned that cross-Taiwan Strait peace will not be achieved by showing weakness or making concessions.
According to a release provided by the Presidential Office, the meeting's agenda included talks on the Chinese military threat and regional security, strengthening ties with the United States, maintaining stability in cross-strait relations, domestic economic stability and security, and future economic development.
In terms of the security risk, Tsai said China's military has conducted a growing number of maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and the East China Sea in recent months, threatening regional security.
Taiwan will continue to act as a responsible member of the region, she said. However, she went on to say that "history has proven that showing weakness and making concessions does not lead to peace, which can only be achieved by strength and the resolve to defend one's homeland."
In response to the growing frequency of the Chinese maneuvers, Tsai instructed the Ministry of National Defense and the National Security Council to carry out risk assessments and to ensure that the military is prepared for further escalation or other potential provocations, the statement said.
On the topic of cross-strait relations, Tsai reiterated that maintaining stability is in the best interests of both sides. On the basis of mutual respect, goodwill and understanding, the two sides should discuss how they can peacefully coexist, she said.
"I am willing, on the principle of equal dignity, to work together to realize a substantive cross-strait dialogue," Tsai said, adding that she hopes Beijing will soon be willing to assume a commensurate responsibility.
Her remarks came just days after China's leadership concluded a four-day meeting on the country's major policy direction for the next five years.
Notably, a 6,000-word post-meeting communiqué issued on Thursday contained only a brief mention of Taiwan, in reference to "promoting the development of peaceful cross-strait ties and national unification."
On Saturday, the Hong Kong-based Ming Pao (明報) newspaper quoted an unnamed Chinese analyst, who argued that the communiqué showed China's government is preparing for a potentially long period of strategic competition with the United States, under which circumstances "national unification" has become less of an immediate concern.
China is looking at "national unification" in the long term, the official said, meaning that it could take a "cooler" approach on the issue over the next five, 15 or even 30 years.
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