Taipei: War between Taiwan and China is “absolutely not an option”, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Monday, as she reiterated her willingness to talk to Beijing and also pledged to boost the island’s defences including with precision missiles.
Democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, has come under increasing military and political pressure from Beijing, especially after Chinese war games in early August following a Taipei visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Any conflict over Taiwan could drag in the United States, Japan and perhaps much of the world, as well as shatter the global economy, especially given Taiwan’s dominant position as a maker of semiconductors used in everything from smartphones and tablets to fighter jets.
Tsai, in her national day speech outside the presidential office under a grey sky, said it was “regrettable” that China had escalated its intimidation and threatened peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and region.
China should not think there is room for compromise in the commitment of Taiwan’s people to democracy and freedom, she said.
“I want to make clear to the Beijing authorities that armed confrontation is absolutely not an option for our two sides. —Agencies
Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait.” There was no immediate reaction from Beijing.
China calls Tsai – re-elected by a landslide in 2020 on a promise to stand up to Beijing – a separatist and refuses to speak to her.
Tsai’s speech comes less than a week before China’s ruling Communist Party’s congress opens in Beijing, where President Xi Jinping is widely expected to win a precedent-breaking third five-year term.
An official familiar with Tsai’s thinking, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters the president was looking to “clearly convey” her position to the world and Beijing.
“Standing firm on the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is the main axis of Tsai’s comments on cross-strait relations this year,” the official said, adding this was the world’s expectation and responsibility of both Taipei and Beijing.