Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said maintaining the status quo is critical to seeking a peaceful coexistence with China as she delivered her last National Day speech before voters choose her successor in January.
(Bloomberg) — Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said maintaining the status quo is critical to seeking a peaceful coexistence with China as she delivered her last National Day speech before voters choose her successor in January.
She highlighted her administration’s accomplishments over two terms, including dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and launching the first domestically developed submarine aimed at strengthening the island’s defense. Taiwan has also reduced its over-reliance on a single market by boosting exports to the US and deepening connectivity with Europe, she said.
“We can now face the world with confidence and resolve,” Tsai said. “We can also be calm and self-assured in facing China, creating conditions for peaceful coexistence and future developments across the Taiwan Strait.”
With the presidential election looming, Tsai’s deputy, Vice President Lai Ching-te, is currently the leading candidate to replace her and manage one of the world’s most dangerous geopolitical flash points. In a TVBS poll released on Sept. 26, Lai took the top spot with 36% support, followed by Ko Wen-je from Taiwan’s People Party, Kuomintang’s Hou Yu-ih and Foxconn founder Terry Gou.
Tsai’s successor will shape the island’s ties with its giant neighbor China, which has dialed up the pressure on Taipei over the past seven years.
Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party reject China’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, insisting the island is an already de facto independent nation.
In mid-September, Taiwan asked China to stop what it called destructive unilateral actions after over a hundred PLA aircraft were detected in the areas around Taiwan, saying it posed serious challenges to security across the strait. Later that month, Taiwan unveiled its first domestic submarine to stave off a potential invasion by China. The submarine is set to officially enter into service in 2025, Tsai said.
Tsai has been unable to talk to Beijing during her stint as president. Both Tsai and Lai have made it clear that they would not affirm the “92 consensus”, a tacit agreement between the Chinese Communist Party and Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang that says Taiwan is part of China. Beijing insists that the 92 Consensus must be affirmed before talks can take place, indicating that the communication freeze will likely continue should Lai win January’s election.
Ko has expressed he would not reject the consensus outright, while Hou and Gou indicated they would support it.
In her speech Tuesday, Tsai said her administration has kept its promises and maintained the status quo since 2016. It deepened cooperation with democratic nations and worked to maintain regional peace and stability, she said.
“Let me reiterate that peace is the only option across the strait,” Tsai said. “Maintaining the status quo, as the largest common denominator for all sides, is the critical key to ensuring peace.”
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