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Tsai calls for 'peaceful coexistence' with Beijing on National Day

10/10/2023 01:57 PM
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Soldiers take part in the Armed Forces' segment during the National Day parade in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo Oct. 10, 2023
Soldiers take part in the Armed Forces' segment during the National Day parade in Taipei Tuesday. CNA photo Oct. 10, 2023

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) Peace is the only option across the Taiwan Strait, and Taiwan is willing to work out "a path to peaceful coexistence" with Beijing, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Tuesday during her National Day address in Taipei.

Taiwan is willing to "develop with the Beijing authorities a mutually acceptable foundation for interaction and a path to peaceful coexistence" provided that "the Taiwan public consensus" is respected and both sides engage with each other on reciprocal terms, Tsai said.

Tsai, however, did not elaborate on what such a pubic consensus entailed during her speech at a ceremony marking the National Day of the Republic of China, Taiwan's formal name.

While noting that cross-Taiwan Strait relations have seen "drastic changes" over the past seven years, Tsai said her administration had "kept its promises and maintained the status quo."

"Peace is the only option across the strait," she said in her last National Day address before she leaves office on May 20, 2024 after completing two four-year terms.

"Maintaining the status quo, the largest common denominator for all sides, is key to ensuring peace."

Differences across the Taiwan Strait must be resolved peacefully, she said at the ceremony outside the Presidential Office, adding that neither side should unilaterally change the status quo.

Tsai said her administration had not provoked China nor acted rashly when it came to cross-strait relations since she took office in 2016.

The administration has instead sought to deepen cooperation with democratic countries, and thus made Taiwan "the most reliable [and] effective" partner in global supply chains and democratic development, she said.

The international community has come to realize that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is an indispensable component of global security and prosperity and its support for Taiwan has reached "an unprecedented height," she added.

All these efforts, according to Tsai, have allowed Taipei to deal with Beijing in a "calm and self-assured" manner and created conditions for peaceful coexistence between both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan and China should work to contribute to regional peace and promote "free [and] unrestricted" interactions among their people, she said, adding that it is "an unavoidable historic responsibility" born by the two sides.

She also called for unity among different political parties and people with various backgrounds in Taiwan in the face of "external threats," as "everyone in Taiwan has a shared destiny."

Through efforts to improve its defense capabilities, Taiwan has demonstrated its resolve to defend the country, Tsai said, mentioning in particular the launch of the military's prototype of the first indigenous defense submarine called Narwhal in late September.

The submarine project is "a big step forward" in Taiwan's ambitions to achieve greater defense self-sufficiency and further enhance its asymmetric capabilities, she said.

Tsai's address was delivered after she and Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) greeted dozens of foreign guests at the Presidential Office, including parliamentarian groups from Japan and Canada, as well as former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

The ceremony outside the Presidential Office was also attended by Lai, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party's presidential nominee, and his rival from the Taiwan People's Party Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

The main opposition Kuomintang's presidential nominee Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜), who is also New Taipei mayor, attended a separate National Day ceremony hosted by the New Taipei City government, where he was joined by former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

Meanwhile, aspiring presidential candidate Terry Gou (郭台銘) took part in another celebratory event hosted by the Taipei City government.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

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