Taiwan’s leader offers to help China battle Covid

Beijing, Jan 1 (EFE).- The president of Taiwan in her New Year’s speech on Sunday offered to help China deal with its wave of Covid-19 infections, the island’s news agency CNA reported.

“Based on humanitarian concerns, we would like to offer all necessary assistance if needed,” Tsai Ing-wen said, without saying whether Beijing has asked for help.

Like countries including Spain, the United States, Italy, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Japan and Australia, Taiwan recently announced that it will require Covid testing for all arrivals from China, a guideline that will be maintained at least until late January.

On cross-Strait relations, the president asserted in her speech that “war is never an option for resolving differences” and called for “dialogue and cooperation under the same goal of promoting regional stable development” in order to enjoy “safety and well-being.”

Last year, tension in the Taiwan Strait reached levels not seen in decades after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August, to which an incensed Beijing responded with military exercises around the island, among other things.

During his year-end speech on Saturday, China’s President Xi Jinping expressed his hope that hope that “compatriots on both sides of the Strait will work together with a unity of purpose to jointly foster lasting prosperity of the Chinese nation,” referring to Taiwan and to the reunification that Beijing demands.

Tsai said Thursday that while she noted that Xi used a more “gentle tone” towards Taiwan, the military activities of the Chinese army near the island are detrimental to the peace and stability of the region.

This week, Tsai announced that the four-month mandatory military service for men will be extended to one year from 2024, noting that the island is on “the front lines of the expansion of authoritarianism.”

Taiwan has been considered a sovereign territory with its own government and political system under the name of the Republic of China since the end of the civil war between nationalists and communists in 1949, but Beijing maintains it is a rebel province and insists on reunification.

The island is also one of the biggest sources of conflict between China and the US mainly because Washington is Taiwan’s main arms supplier and would be its greatest military ally in the event of a possible war with China. EFE


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