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China's military intimidation only escalates cross-strait tensions: MAC

05/23/2024 10:46 PM
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Liang Wen-chieh, deputy head and spokesperson of the Mainland Affairs Council, speaks at the council's weekly press briefing in Taipei on Thursday. CNA photo May 23, 2024
Liang Wen-chieh, deputy head and spokesperson of the Mainland Affairs Council, speaks at the council's weekly press briefing in Taipei on Thursday. CNA photo May 23, 2024

Taipei, May 23 (CNA) Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) strongly protested the military exercises launched by China surrounding Taiwan on Thursday, stating that intimidation only escalates tensions in the Taiwan Strait and destabilizes the region.

The MAC expressed strong objection at China's launching of military exercises around Taiwan proper and the areas surrounding the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen and Matsu Islands, said Liang Wen-chieh (梁文傑), deputy head and spokesperson of the MAC, Taiwan's top government agency handling cross-strait affairs.

"We demand the Chinese Communist Party cease its irrational military provocations," Liang said.

Quoting data from a recent MAC poll, he said that over 90 percent of Taiwanese people disapprove of the continued activities of Chinese military aircraft and ships in Taiwan's vicinity.

"Beijing should fully understand that intimidation cannot win people's hearts but only escalate cross-strait tensions and destabilize the region," Liang added.

Following President Lai Ching-te's (賴清德) inaugural address on Monday, the People's Republic of China (PRC) said the speech was an attempt to promote Taiwanese independence, in particular Lai's statement that the Republic of China (ROC) -- Taiwan's official name -- and the PRC are not subordinate to each other.

● Lai urges Beijing to recognize ROC, calls for dialogue at inauguration

● Full text of President Lai Ching-te's inaugural address

Li Xi (李熹), a Chinese People's Liberation Army spokesperson was quoted by China's state-run Xinhua News Agency as saying the exercises that started Thursday morning were a "strong punishment for the separatist acts of 'Taiwan independence' forces and a stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces," without elaborating.

In the press conference, Liang reiterated that in Lai's inaugural address, the president emphasized that when it comes to cross-strait policy, the new administration will uphold the "Four Commitments" -- an approach to cross-strait policy proposed by his predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) -- and will neither yield nor provoke, while maintaining the status quo.

"Our goal of maintaining cross-strait peace and the status quo has not changed. Our direction of promoting continued cross-strait exchanges has not changed. Our determination to defend Taiwan's free and democratic constitutional system has also not changed," he stated.

In Lai's speech on Monday, he called on China to engage in cooperation with Taiwan's government, proposing that it could "start with the resumption of tourism on a reciprocal basis, and allow degree students to enroll at Taiwanese institutions."

Liang said that through the Ministry of Education's admissions channel, the authorities have already asked the Chinese authorities whether it is possible to permit Chinese degree students to study in Taiwan but have yet to receive a response.

Regarding tourism, Liang stated that the Chinese authorities have previously put forward some demands and preconditions that do not meet Taiwan's expectations, such as only allowing tourists from Fujian province to visit Taiwan.

"However, we will still consider these demands, and we will actively address this issue," Liang said.

In August 2019, China halted independent travel to Taiwan, citing the strained state of cross-strait relations. In 2020, group travel to Taiwan and the enrollment of Chinese degree students at institutions in Taiwan were also suspended. These measures are still in effect.

On the other hand, Taiwan allows its citizens to study in or travel independently to China, but not as part of tour groups arranged by Taiwanese travel agencies.

(By Sunny Lai)

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