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Lai urges Beijing to recognize ROC, calls for dialogue at inauguration (update)

05/20/2024 04:07 PM
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President Lai Ching-te. CNA photo May 20, 2024
President Lai Ching-te. CNA photo May 20, 2024

Taipei, May 20 (CNA) President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) called on Beijing to acknowledge Taiwan's government and engage in dialogue with Taipei in his inaugural address on Monday, saying that both sides are responsible for promoting peace in the Taiwan Strait.

"I hope that China will face the reality of the Republic of China's existence" and "in good faith...engage in cooperation with the legal government chosen by Taiwan's people," Lai said in front of the Presidential Office building in Taipei.

Lai reaffirmed that his government would adhere to former President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) policy toward China and work to maintain the status quo.

The government will "neither yield nor provoke," said Lai, who also chairs the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), echoing Tsai's stance of refraining from provocative or rash acts in the face of Chinese pressure.

The newly inaugurated president advocated for dialogue based on the principles of equality and dignity as well as exchanges between the two sides, instead of confrontation and containment.

If national leaders prioritize the well-being of their people, they will share the common goals of maintaining peace in the Taiwan Strait and promoting mutual benefit, Lai said.

He suggested that the two sides start "from the resumption of tourism on a reciprocal basis, and enrollment of degree students in Taiwanese institutions."

Currently, individual tourists from Taiwan and China can visit each other's country, but group travel remains restricted by both governments.

At the same time, the Chinese government has since 2020 banned Chinese students from pursuing degree studies in Taiwan, permitting only exchange programs, summer camps, and other short-term educational activities.

While calling for more exchanges, Lai also urged Beijing to cease its "political and military intimidation" of Taiwan while describing China's military actions and gray-zone coercion as "the greatest strategic challenges to global peace and stability."

Beijing should fulfill its obligation to uphold stability in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding regions so as to "ensure the world is free from fear of war," he said.

In face of "the many threats and attempts of infiltration from China," however, the people of Taiwan must demonstrate their resolution to defend the nation, Lai said, noting that the government would also work to raise defense awareness and strengthen the legal framework for national security.

"We have a nation insofar as we have sovereignty," Lai remarked, underlining the need for the people of Taiwan to stay united.

Taiwanese, including members of different political parties, should "come together to safeguard our nation," he said, adding that no individual should "entertain the idea of giving up our national sovereignty in exchange for political power."

"The Republic of China and the People's Republic of China are not subordinate to each other," he said.

Meanwhile, Taiwan will engage in "values-based diplomacy," he said, stressing the country's "unwavering commitments" to uphold democracy and freedom and contribute to the democratic community.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

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