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War with China never an option: Taiwan's ruling party VP candidate

11/26/2023 12:43 PM
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DPP vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (front center) poses withe the ruling party's lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Friday. CNA photo Nov. 24, 2023
DPP vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (front center) poses withe the ruling party's lawmakers at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei Friday. CNA photo Nov. 24, 2023

Taipei, Nov. 26 (CNA) Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said on Saturday that war with China will never be an option, as she sought to highlight the need to maintain stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Hsiao, Taiwan's representative in Washington, was on Nov. 20 named the running mate for the DPP's presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德), the front runner to be Taiwan's next leader.

China strongly opposes both Lai and Hsiao, labeling them as "separatists", and has put sanctions on Hsiao twice.

Beijing criticized her appointment as a vice-presidential candidate, denouncing it as "independence on top of independence."

➤ KMT's Hou-Jaw ticket calls election a choice between war and peace

In her first TV interview since returning to Taiwan for the campaign, Hsiao responded to the opposition parties' accusations that keeping the DPP in power might lead to war with China by saying that all Taiwanese people are advocates of peace, and war will never be considered as an option.

"Any candidate aspiring to win the election must approach this matter with utmost responsibility," Hsiao said.

"Our team is also exercising great caution in strategizing how to garner increased international support, ensuring that the current peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait can be maintained," she added.

When asked whether the United States would defend Taiwan if war breaks out, Hsiao mentioned an ongoing debate within the U.S. on whether to maintain a policy of strategic ambiguity or clarity regarding the China-Taiwan issue.

"Regardless of one's stance, the shared desire is for the U.S. strategy to uphold the stability of the status quo and oppose any unilateral changes," she said, adding the U.S.' goals set for cooperation with Taiwan are aimed at deterring and preventing conflicts.

Hsiao also discussed her role as Taiwan's top envoy to the nation's most important ally, the U.S.

She said the strategic landscape is constantly evolving, and Taiwan must take a proactive approach, while pragmatically recognizing all risks in order to maximize support.

"That's why I often describe myself as a cat warrior, constantly seeking balance --sometimes moving forward, sometimes to the left or right, and occasionally taking a step back. It's through these delicate balances that we find the space to survive," she added.

On Saturday, Lai said in a campaign rally in Taoyuan that the Jan. 13 election boils down to a choice between democracy and dictatorship, as he sought to raise concerns among voters that voting for the main opposition party Kuomintang (KMT) could lead to a loss of Taiwan's democracy and sovereignty.

Vice President Lai Ching-te (left) greets supporters at a campaign rally in New Taipei Saturday. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023
Vice President Lai Ching-te (left) greets supporters at a campaign rally in New Taipei Saturday. CNA photo Nov. 25, 2023

The KMT has responded to similar accusations in the past by criticizing the DPP for using fear-mongering tactics to win votes, without providing any evidence.

Lai also said that he and his running mate Hsiao have the unwavering commitment to safeguarding Taiwan's democracy, pledging to align Taiwan with democratic societies worldwide.

Sharing the stage with Lai, Taiwan's incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said with the ever-evolving international landscape, Taiwan must exercise utmost caution in every move, leaving no room for error.

It is imperative to select the right individuals who will guide Taiwan on the correct trajectory and ensure that the nation stays on the right path, she added.

Taiwan's 2024 presidential election has evolved into a three-way race, with Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) of the KMT and Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) of the upstart Taiwan People's Party challenging DPP's Lai.

(By Chung Yu-chen and Yeh Chen)

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