Taipei, Oct 10 (efe-epa).- Taiwan’s president said on Saturday that tensions between the island and China, which considers it a rebellious province, can only be resolved through a dialogue on coexistence but warned that “showing weakness and making concessions will not bring peace.”
In an address on the National Day of the Republic of China – Taiwan’s official name – President Tsai Ing-wen said that “harassment by air and sea from the other side has raised tensions in the Taiwan Strait.”
“Our commitment to our sovereignty and democratic values will not change,” warned Tsai although she added that the island will also “maintain strategic flexibility” and be “responsive to changes.”
With regard to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent address at the United Nations General Assembly, in which he asserted that Beijing “will never seek hegemony, expansion or create a sphere of influence,” the Taiwanese leader expressed hope that “this is the beginning of genuine change.”
“If Beijing can heed Taiwan’s voice and change the way it handles cross strait relations and jointly facilitate cross strait reconciliation and peaceful dialogue, I believe that regional tension can be truly resolved,” Tsai said.
However, in this regard, she noted that “this is not something Taiwan can shoulder alone” but “is the joint responsibility of both sides.”
“At this stage, the most pressing issue is to discuss how we can live in peace and coexist, based on mutual respect, goodwill and understanding, as long as the Beijing authorities are willing to resolve antagonisms and improve cross-strait relations. While parity and dignity are maintained, we are willing to work together to facilitate meaningful dialogue,” she added.
But this call for negotiation is likely not to be met with the same enthusiasm in Beijing, where Xi himself has already said that China will not rule out the use of force to achieve Taiwan’s “reunification” with the mainland.
After the civil war, which ended with the creation of communist China in 1949, Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the KMT, and his loyalists took refuge in the island of Taiwan and ruled over the territory until the early 1990’s when a transition to democracy took place.
In a scenario in which China did not respond to calls for negotiation, Tsai also reviewed the island’s defensive capabilities and said that “adequate preparation and reliance on a determination of the strength of solid national defense capabilities, is the only way to guarantee Taiwan’s security and maintain regional peace.”
The president said Taiwan will continue to “modernize” its defensive combat capabilities, acquiring more weapons – supplied largely by the United States amid strong protests from Beijing – and boosting the weak links in its defense by establishing “effective reservists of service” and “the rapid implementation of reserve and mobilization system reforms.”
Taiwan, the president added, will continue to be guided by the principle of “neither fearing nor seeking war” and will continue to exchange military information with neighboring countries – despite the fact that no Asian nation currently maintains official diplomatic relations with the island – and to strengthen its security partnerships. EFE-EPA