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Taiwan seeks ‘new era’ of peace with China
January 21, 2017
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TAIPEI: Taiwan aspires to create a “new era” of peace with China as military action cannot resolve problems, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said in a letter to Pope Francis, lauding Taipei’s peaceful intentions at a time of tension with Beijing.

In her Jan.5 letter to the Pope, released by her office on Friday, Tsai said upholding peace across the Taiwan Strait needed goodwill and communication.

“Based on many years of experience in cross-Strait negotiations during my political career, I am convinced that military action cannot resolve problems,” Tsai said.

“Taiwan and mainland China were once embroiled in a zero-sum conflict that caused tension in the region and anxiety among our peoples. In contrast, today people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait enjoy stable lives and normal exchanges under peaceful separate governance.”

Tsai added that Taiwan was committed to maintaining its democracy and the status quo of peace but would not bow to pressure.

“I urge the governing party across the strait, together with the governing party in Taiwan, to set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue,” Tsai said.

Tsai said she sought to heed the Pope’s words of peace.

“As the first female president in the ethnic Chinese world, I aspire to live up to your words as I devote myself to enhancing the well-being of the Taiwanese people and creating a new era for cross-strait peace.”

There was no immediate response from China to Tsai’s comments.

But speaking earlier at a daily briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying again rounded on Taiwan for sending a delegation to Trump’s Friday inauguration.

“The aim is to use this as an opportunity to interfere in and damage Sino-US relations,” she said.

Taiwan’s policy-making Mainland Affairs Council said it hoped China would not “intentionally seek to suppress normal interactions” between Taiwan and the United States.

Underscoring the recent tension between China and Taiwan, Japanese Self-Defense Forces will carry out a tabletop exercise next week simulating a military clash between China and Taiwan, under which Japan’s military will rescue Japanese citizens and protect US military ships, a source said in Tokyo.

The Self-Defence Forces will conduct drills from Monday through Friday with the US military participating as an observer, a Japanese government source told Kyodo News.

A Japanese defence ministry spokesman declined to comment.

China’s foreign ministry said Japan should keep out of what it called an “internal affair.”

“I think this reflects that some people in Japan have a certain mentality that the last thing they want is a stable world,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing in Beijing on Friday.

“I want to emphasise that the Taiwan issue is an internal affair of China, and we hope that Japan will be very cautious with its words and actions and not do anything that would undermine regional peace and stability.”

The issue of self-ruled and proudly democratic Taiwan has shot to the top of the international agenda since US President-elect Donald Trump broke with decades of precedent last month by taking a congratulatory telephone call from Tsai.

That, along with subsequent comments by Trump that the “one China” policy was up for negotiation, has infuriated Beijing, which views Taiwan as a wayward province, to be brought under its control by force if necessary.

China is deeply suspicious of Tsai, whose ruling Democratic Progressive Party espouses the island’s formal independence, a red line for Beijing, and has cut off a formal dialogue mechanism with the island.

Chinese military aircraft and warships, including its sole aircraft carrier, have also recently operated close to Taiwan in what China called routine drills.


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