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Lai says not first to say ROC, PRC not subordinate to each other

06/13/2024 10:39 PM
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Time Magazine correspondent Charlie Campbell (left) interviews President Lai Ching-te at the Presidential Office in this photo released on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Presidential Office June 13, 2024
Time Magazine correspondent Charlie Campbell (left) interviews President Lai Ching-te at the Presidential Office in this photo released on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Presidential Office June 13, 2024

Taipei, June 13 (CNA) President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said he is not the first to suggest the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are not subordinate to each other, in his first media interview since taking office on May 20, featuring on the cover of the latest edition of Time Magazine published Thursday.

Lai was responding to Time correspondent Charlie Campbell who asked in an interview conducted May 30 whether in hindsight he considers unnecessarily provocative the statement in his inaugural speech that the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan's official title) and People's Republic of China (PRC) are not subservient to each other, which provoked a reaction from Beijing and the staging of military drills.

A transcript of the interview was released by the Presidential Office on Thursday.

"What I said was the truth. Moreover, I was not the first person to express this truth. My intention was not to provoke," Lai contended.

Lai indicated that former President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that the ROC and PRC are not subordinate to each other during her 2021 National Day Address.

Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) also once said the ROC is a sovereign and independent state and that neither side of the strait is subordinate to the other.

Update: Lai accused of misrepresenting ex-President Ma's China stance (June 14)

Lai said he stated this in accordance with Articles 2 and 3 of the ROC Constitution, given that "on Taiwan we have our own people, land, sovereignty, and government." According to international law, we are already a sovereign and independent country," adding that his goal is to bring the people of Taiwan together.

When asked what he means by dignity and equivalence with the PRC when he called for resumption of cross-strait dialogue, trade, and educational exchanges based on dignity and equivalence in his inaugural speech, Lai said that first, the PRC should recognize that the ROC exists.

Second, each issue should be mutually beneficial and reciprocal.

Moreover, as the two sides conduct exchanges and cooperate with one another, they should share a common desire to enhance the well-being of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, working toward peace and mutual prosperity, he added.

Saying that cross-strait peace and stability are indispensable elements of global peace and prosperity, Lai indicated that in his inaugural speech, he urged Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) to understand that conflict in the strait and disruptions to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region will not be accepted by the international community and invited Xi to jointly shoulder the responsibility of maintaining peace and stability, building regional prosperity and advancing world peace.

Regarding the question whether China's mounting economic problems will make Taiwan more vulnerable, or provide an opportunity for engagement for mutual benefit, Lai said he believed that "a stable China leads to a safer Taiwan. A prosperous Taiwan can also bring about progress in China."

Therefore, Lai said he does not wish to see growing difficulties in China's economy, or its society become more unstable.

Even though Taiwan's economy has continued to grow and has not been affected as China's economy has continued to decline, Taiwan's new government is willing to assist China and advance cross-strait peace and prosperity, Lai said.

Lai is the third national leader on the cover of Time Magazine this year, following United States President Joe Biden and Prime Minister of Thailand Srettha Thavisin.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang, Yeh Su-ping, Justin Su and Evelyn Kao)

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