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President-elect Lai reiterates openness to dialogue with Beijing

05/15/2024 01:21 PM
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CNA photo May 15, 2024
CNA photo May 15, 2024

Taipei, April 15 (CNA) Just days away from taking office, President-elect Lai Ching-te (賴清德) told a democracy forum in Copenhagen on Tuesday that Taiwan was open to dialogue with China.

"I will not rule out dialogue with China on the principles of mutual respect, mutual benefits, and dignity," Lai said at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit in a pre-recorded video, adding that such dialogue should be conducted "with no preconditions."

Incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has made similar appeals for official engagement with China over the years, to no avail.

Beijing has insisted on Taipei accepting the "1992 consensus," under which both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China, as a prerequisite for dialogue.

Lai, who will be inaugurated on May 20, said his administration "will work to safeguard the status quo" in the Taiwan Strait.

He said the people of Taiwan "stand at the forefront of the fight against authoritarian expansion" as they face pressure from foreign disinformation, military threats, and economic coercion.

"Despite Beijing's efforts, the people of Taiwan have rejected authoritarianism," Lai said. "China's coercion has only strengthened our resolve to remain democratic and free."

In the face of those challenges, Taiwan must continue to bolster its defense capabilities and enhance its economic resilience, Lai said.

"The free world must win the global race in important technology sectors," Lai said, noting that Taiwan as an advanced chip manufacturing powerhouse will be "centric to the global technological alliance of democracies."

Source: Alliance Of Democracies

Tsai, who will step down on May 20 after serving two four-year terms, also addressed the summit on Tuesday in a separate pre-recorded video in which she said "the people of Taiwan are more determined than ever to safeguard democracy and freedom."

Taiwanese have dealt with "much intensified threats and intimidation" from China on a daily basis "with resilience and courage," Tsai said, while accusing China of engaging in hacking, cyberattacks, and military intrusions against Taiwan.

"Neither threats nor coercion will shake Taiwan's resolve to engage with the world," Tsai said. "Taiwan and its people stand ready to strengthen cooperation with democracies around the world, in all areas where we share mutual interests."

Partnerships Taiwan maintains with like-minded countries will be "the most effective defense of all," she said.

Taiwan remains ready to share its best practices on countering authoritarian influence with its partners, she said, while underlining the country's commitment to support and strengthen democracies around the world and contribute to regional security.

The summit, being held in Copenhagen on Tuesday and Wednesday, seeks to bring together political, business and media leaders, as well as democracy activists to speak up in defense of the values of freedom and democracy.

Other speakers invited to address the two-day event includes Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark, among others.

(By Teng Pei-ju)

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