President Tsai Ing-wen Asserts Taiwan’s Relations with China Must be Decided by the People

Taiwan’s President Emphasizes People’s Will and Dignity in China Relations

The President of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, has asserted that Taiwan’s relations with China must be determined by the will of the people and that peace must be established based on “dignity”. This comes after China’s leader, Xi Jinping, stated that “reunification” with Taiwan is inevitable, and has been intensifying military pressure to assert its sovereignty claims over the democratic island. Xi’s New Year’s Eve address took a stronger tone than the previous year where he had merely stated that people on either side of the Taiwan Strait are “members of one and the same family.”

During a New Year’s press conference at the presidential office in Taipei, Tsai was asked about Xi’s speech. In response, she emphasized that the most critical principle for deciding the course of action on relations with China was democracy. As a democratic country, Taiwan’s people must make a joint decision. Tsai added that China should respect the outcome of Taiwan’s election, and it is the responsibility of both sides to maintain peace and stability in the Strait.

China has been portraying the elections as a choice between war and peace and has refused multiple offers of talks by Tsai, with the belief that she is a separatist. Taiwan’s government has repeatedly warned about China’s interference in the election, whether through fake news, military or trade pressure, and Tsai expressed hope that people would remain vigilant against such activities.

In response to China’s accusation of erecting trade barriers and ending some tariff cuts for the island, China threatened further economic measures last week. To bolster and modernize Taiwan’s defenses, Tsai has made the indigenous submarine program a priority. She stated that Taiwan’s people want peace, but it should be with respect. She used the analogy of locks on homes to illustrate that they are not meant to provoke neighbors next door but to make oneself safer. This is the same for the doors of the country.

Tsai Calls for Global Diversification of Taiwan’s Companies

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen emphasized the importance of global diversification for Taiwan’s companies in a recent statement. She stated that this is the correct approach, rather than relying solely on China. Tsai cited the unstable and unpredictable nature of China’s market as a significant risk factor.

China has expressed particular concern over the current Vice President Lai Ching-te, who is also the presidential candidate for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Party (DPP). Lai is leading in opinion polls by varying margins, and China has accused him of being a dangerous separatist. Both the DPP and Taiwan’s largest opposition party, the Kuomintang, maintain that only the people of Taiwan should determine their future.

Tsai, who has completed two terms in office, is unable to run for re-election. She is set to step down in May when the next president is sworn in.

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