New Taipei, Jan 11 (EFE).- Taiwanese opposition presidential candidate Hou Yu-ih spoke Thursday on his commitment to resuming dialogue with China, opting to achieve a middle ground between independence and reunification, two days before the island’s presidential elections.
“The future of Taiwan must be decided by the 23 million inhabitants of Taiwan. The middle path is the best and I will use dialogue to minimize risks,” Hou said at a press conference before the foreign press, which he attended accompanied by his vice presidential candidate Jaw Shau-kong.
Hou’s party is the most supportive of dialog with Beijing, which considers the island a rebellious province. The leader spoke of his “3D” strategy to preserve peace in the Strait of Formosa: deterrence, dialogue and distension.
“We will start with the private sector, religious exchanges and allowing students from the mainland to study here. We need to start with soft policies, before moving on to higher policies,” said the New Taipei mayor, who ruled out a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the moment.
Hou said he has no “unrealistic illusions” concerning the mainland and opted to increase the defense budget and improve the island’s military capabilities.
“Maybe we are not typical Kuomintang members. Neither of them harbors unrealistic illusions regarding tensions with mainland China. If people want to maintain the status quo, we will support that,” Hou said.
The opposition candidate attacked the candidate of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, William Lai, whom he accused of supporting the independence of Taiwan, a proposal that increases the possibilities of “war” with Beijing.
“Lai is a pragmatic worker for Taiwan independence. If he is elected, the risk is greater than with any other and we cannot afford to have a war. Peace should be our only option,” said Hou, who also downplayed Beijing’s alleged attempts to interfere in the election result.
More than 19 million Taiwanese are eligible to vote in Saturday’s elections, in which the candidate will compete with Lai and the Taiwan People’s Party candidate Ko Wen-je.
Hou and Ko negotiated for months the possibility of going to the polls together, something that was disrupted on the same day of presentation of their candidatures, when they were unable to reach an agreement on the presidential formula.
According to the average of the latest polls, Lai leads the presidential race with about 35 percent of support, followed by Hou, with 28 percent, and Ko, with another 24 percent.
Taiwan – where the Chinese nationalist army withdrew after defeat at the hands of communist troops in the civil war – has been governed autonomously since 1949, although China claims sovereignty over the island. EFE