KMT presidential nominee Hou pledges better ties with both U.S., China
Taipei, Dec. 7 (CNA) Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih (侯友宜) said Thursday that if elected, he will seek to maintain friendly relations with both China and the United States, while criticizing the current government's China policy as leading to zero formal bilateral communication.
Hou's comments came after Taiwan People's Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) said a day earlier that he would follow incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) foreign policy if elected.
Although Ko indicated he favors a more amicable approach to relations with China in a TV interview, the former Taipei mayor stressed that in the military domain he remains committed to developing Taiwan's self-defense capabilities.
At a press conference in New Taipei on Thursday, Hou responded to Ko's comments by slamming the Tsai administration's foreign policy as a "complete failure."
He pointed out that the current administration's foreign policy has seen several diplomatic allies sever relations with Taiwan, a complete inability to participate in regional economic organizations, and a breakdown in cross-strait communications.
Since Tsai assumed office in 2016, a total of nine countries have severed diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and official communications with China have been non-existent. Hou argued that "Tsai's policy does not work," advocating instead for a more balanced pro-U.S. and pro-China stance.
Hou further elaborated on his position, calling for strong alignment with the United States while also stressing the importance of communicating with China. He also noted the gradual cooling of cross-strait relations since the days of former KMT Presidents Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Hou slammed the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for upsetting the balance of relations across the Taiwan Strait, resulting in increased tensions and the imminent threat of conflict -- a concern he said is shared by the vast majority of Taiwanese.
While the KMT presidential candidate cautioned against harboring unrealistic expectations when dealing with China, he stressed that Taiwan's security cannot be solely dependent on promises from the United States, Taiwan's most important ally.
Instead, he advocated for self-reliance in defense as well as a pragmatic and realistic approach toward cross-strait relations and democratic countries.
Meanwhile, Pan Men-an (潘孟安), campaign office head for DPP presidential front-runner Lai Ching-te (賴清德), said on Thursday that if Ko believes Tsai's approach is correct, he should support Lai, who pledged to follow President Tsai's policy if elected on taking over as DPP chairperson in January 2023.
Taiwanese voters head to the polls to elect their next president, vice president and legislators on Jan. 13, 2024.
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