Taiwan seeks ‘peaceful coexistence’ with China, president says

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan seeks “peaceful coexistence” with China with free and unrestricted interaction between people on both sides, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday, offering another olive branch to Beijing in her last national day speech.

Democratic Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has come under increasing military and political pressure from Beijing, including two major sets of Chinese war games near the island since August of last year.

Tsai, who cannot stand again as president at elections in January after two terms in office, has repeatedly offered talks with China, which has rejected them as it views her as a separatist.

Speaking in front of the presidential office, Tsai said the strength of international support for Taiwan had reached an “unprecedented height”.

“Since this is a time we can now face the world with confidence and resolve, we can also be calm and self-assured in facing China, creating conditions for peaceful coexistence and future developments across the Taiwan Strait,” she added.

Tsai said it was her duty to safeguard Taiwan’s sovereignty and its democratic, free way of life, seeking “free, unrestricted, and unburdened interactions” between Taiwan and China’s people.

Differences between Taiwan and China must be resolved peacefully, and maintaining the status quo is “critical” to ensuring peace, she added.

There was no immediate response from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.

Beijing says Taiwan’s government must accept that both China and Taiwan belong to “one China”, which Tsai has refused to do.

(Reporting by Yimou Lee and Ben BlanchardEditing by Shri Navaratnam and Lincoln Feast)