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'Trust but verify,' DPP's Hsiao says of Xi's Taiwan invasion plan denial

11/23/2023 03:19 PM
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DPP vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (center). CNA photo Nov. 23, 2023
DPP vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (center). CNA photo Nov. 23, 2023

Taipei, Nov. 23 (CNA) Ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said Thursday that Taiwan should "trust, but verify" Chinese leader Xi Jinping's (習近平) reported denial of a planned 2027 invasion.

"We anticipate and we hope that Chairman Xi Jinping was sincere when he said there was no timetable" for bringing Taiwan under control by force, said Hsiao, who resigned as Taiwan's envoy to Washington earlier this week to join the ticket of DPP nominee Lai Ching-te (賴清德).

Borrowing a phrase from former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Hsiao said Taiwan should "trust, but verify."

A senior U.S. administration official cited Xi as denying reports that China planned to take military action against Taiwan in 2027 or 2035, during his bilateral meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco on Nov. 15.

However, Xi also laid out the conditions under which force could be used, the official said, without specifying what those conditions were.

Hsiao said while the future Lai administration would welcome every opportunity to work with Beijing to maintain the status quo, Taiwan needed to continue building up its capability so as to deal with cross-strait relations with more confidence.

CNA photo Nov. 23, 2023
CNA photo Nov. 23, 2023

Hsiao alluded to a "four-pillar plan" for peace proposed by Lai, under which Taiwan will boost its defense capability and economic security while seeking international partnerships and "principled and pragmatic" cross-strait relations.

The plan was modeled on the policy of outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), with whom Beijing reportedly refused to establish official contact despite repeated requests during her eight years in office.

However, with Beijing having already reproachfully labeled both Lai and Hsiao as "separatists," it is unclear how the DPP ticket aims to resume government-to-government talks if elected next January.

In response to a reporter's question on the topic, Hsiao reiterated the position that they "remain open to dialogue" and would be "committed to the status quo."

"It's also important that [those in] the international community who agree with our position in continuing peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait make clear onto our counterpart across the Taiwan Strait that dialogue is the only way to resolve differences," Hsiao said.

"War is not an option," she added.

Speaking of her decision to join Lai's ticket, Hsiao, who had served four non-consecutive terms as a legislator prior to being posted to Washington in 2020, acknowledged having "tremendous hesitation" about returning to Taiwan and getting involved again in domestic politics.

While noting that such a decision was "not an easy one," Hsiao said her alliance with Lai was forged based on their shared commitment to preserve Taiwan's freedom and democracy.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

Enditem/ASG

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CNA photo Nov. 23, 2023
CNA photo Nov. 23, 2023
CNA photo Nov. 23, 2023
CNA photo Nov. 23, 2023
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