On Wednesday, May 20th, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen calls for both Taiwan and China to find a way to coexist, but cannot accept its proposal for “one country, two systems”.
Tsai said relations between Taiwan and China had reached an historical turning point, during a speech after being sworn in for her second and final term as President.
“Both sides have a duty to find a way to coexist over the long term and prevent the intensification of antagonism and differences,” she said.
January’s presidential and parliamentary elections was secured by Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party in a landslide win, by vowing to stand up to China for its claims that Taiwan would be brought under Beijing’s control by force if necessary.
“Here, I want to reiterate the words ‘peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue’. We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo. We stand fast by this principle,” Tsai said.
The Chinese “one country, two systems” policy with a guaranteed high degree of autonomy given to run the former British colony of Hong Kong which was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, was offered to Taiwan but ended up being rejected by all major Taiwanese political parties.
Taiwan is an independent state called the “Republic of China” according to Tsai, and it refuses to be part of the People’s Republic of China which is under the control of Beijing.
Ever since 1949 after the Nationalists lost a civil war to the Communists in mainland China and fled to the island of Taiwan to set up an independent government, it was always ruled separately.
Taiwan’s leaders as well as many citizens, saw themselves as the true representatives for all of China for decades, even as most other countries aligned diplomatic recognition to Beijing.
Taiwan has yearned to have its own identity without seeking any kind of reunification with China, as the island moved from autocracy to a democracy from the 1990s.
This has set off alarm bells in Beijing saying any formal declaration of independence by Taiwan would cross a red line.
Military drills were stepped up near Taiwan since Tsai’s re-election, with the presence of Chinese fighter jets flying into the island’s air space and Chinese warships sailing in the waters around Taiwan.
According to President Tsai, great effort was taken by Taiwan to maintain peace and stability in the narrow Taiwan Strait separating the democratic island from its autocratic neighbour.
“We will continue these efforts, and we are willing to engage in dialogue with China and make more concrete contributions to regional security,” she added, speaking in front of a socially-distanced audience of officials and diplomats in Taipei.
Tsai said that Taiwan will “bolster ties with the United States, Japan, Europe, and other like-minded countries” and continue its fight to participate in international organisations.
Taiwan has pointed its finger at China for exerting pressure to disallow it (Taiwan) to participate in the WHO (World Health Organization) and WHA (World Health Assembly) talks. China on the other hand states that Taiwan had no right to the trappings of a state as it is a Chinese province.
Taiwan has strong backing by the Trump administration, even though only China’s government is recognized by the United States, causing further tension between Washington and Beijing aside from the Covid-19 allegations and ongoing trade war.
On Tuesday, Mike Pompeo, the US Secretary of State, conveyed his congratulations to President Tsai and praised her “courage and vision in leading Taiwan’s vibrant democracy”, which was an exceptional high-level government-to-government message.
Al formal talks mechanism with Taiwan were ended by China back in 2016 after Tsai was first elected President, as Beijing views Tsai as a separatist with a goal to fight for independence for Taiwan.
Newly elected President Tsai’s inauguration was timely as her government also earned accolades of praise locally for its successful fight and containment of the Covid-19 virus with only 400 infections and 7 deaths in the island. The international community also heaped praise on Taiwan for its effort to dispatch shipments of protective equipment to countries of need.
20th May 2020 17:10
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