Taiwanese President hopes for reduced tensions with China
Taipei, Oct 10: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday said that she has hopes for less tensions with China and in the region if Beijing will listen to Taipei's concerns, alter its approach and restart dialogue with the self-ruled island democracy.
Speaking at Taiwan's National Day celebrations on Saturday, Tsai took note of recent remarks by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a video message to the UN General Assembly that China would never seek hegemony, expansion or to establish a sphere of influence.
As countries in the region and around the world are now concerned about China's expanding hegemony, we hope this is the beginning of genuine change," Tsai said in her annual address at the Presidential Office in downtown Taipei."
If Beijing can "heed Taiwan's voice, change the way it handles cross-strait relations, and jointly facilitate cross-strait reconciliation and peaceful dialogue, I believe that regional tension can surely be resolved," Tsai said.
China's ruling Communist Party claims the self-governing island as Chinese territory to be annexed by force if necessary. Beijing cut contacts with Tsai's government following her election to a first term in 2016 and has steadily increased diplomatic, military and economic pressure on the island of 23 million to compel her to endorse its contention that Taiwan and the mainland constitute a single Chinese nation.
Tsai, of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, was reelected by a wide margin this spring and especially since September, China has been sending warplanes and ships into areas under Taiwanese control, prompting the island's air force to scramble its jets at a faster tempo than before.
"For some time now, harassment by air and sea from the other side has raised tensions in the Taiwan Strait," Tsai said, adding that Taiwan would neither show weakness nor "act rashly."
"We are committed to upholding cross-strait stability, but this is not something Taiwan can shoulder alone; it is the joint responsibility of both sides," she said.
China's campaign of isolation has seen Taiwan excluded from international gatherings and reduced its number of diplomatic allies to just 15, even while it enjoys strong informal support from the US, Japan and other major democracies.