Beijing, Oct 10 (EFE).- Taiwan “will not bow to pressure” from China and cross-strait “peace is the only option,” President Tsai Ing-wen said Tuesday in her final speech before leaving power.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen (C) reacts during the Taiwan National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, 10 October 2023. EFE/EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO
Tsai was speaking in Taipei on Taiwan’s National Day, marking the 112th anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising in Wuhan, which ultimately ended the Qing dynasty and brought about the first Republic of China, the official name of Taiwan.
“Ever since 2016, my administration has kept its promises and maintained the status quo. We have adhered to the Four Commitments. We do not provoke, we do not act rashly, and we will absolutely not bow to pressure,” the outgoing president said.
After two terms in office, Tsai cannot seek a third in the island’s election in January.
“We have deepened our cooperation with democratic countries around the world as we work together to maintain regional peace and stability, acting as a force for good in the world.”
The current vice president, William Lai, leads the polls to win the island’s next presidential and legislative elections, which will be held on Jan. 13 and will decide the direction of Taiwan’s policy towards China at a time of high bilateral tension.
Tsai said that since she took office, “obstacles have not ceased, neither have we stopped engaging with the world.”
“Both diplomatic allies and like-minded countries have voiced their support for Taiwan on the international stage… Taiwan’s democratic achievements have set a benchmark for the world,” she noted.
Taiwanese soldiers perform during the Taiwan National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, 10 October 2023. EFE/EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO
The president said that Taipei can “be calm and self-assured in facing China, creating conditions for peaceful coexistence and future developments across the Taiwan Strait.”
“It is my duty as president to safeguard our national sovereignty and the democratic and free way of life of the 23 million people of Taiwan; seeking peaceful coexistence, with free, unrestricted, and unburdened interactions between people across the strait,” she added.
Tsai reiterated that “peace is the only option across the strait. Maintaining the status quo, as the largest common denominator for all sides, is the critical key to ensuring peace.”
“I deeply believe that international support for Taiwan will only grow stronger. As the world is watching with concern and working to preserve peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, we must grasp the moment of opportunity to manage risk and enable both sides to be contributors to peace,” she said.
Tsai also noted that during her term the island has made achievements, but that there have also been areas in which it has “not met expectations.”
“As president, I cannot shirk my responsibilities. This is a democratic country, and those in power can never be complacent,” she noted. “My term will end on May 20 next year, but our country will continue moving forward.”
Tensions between Taipei and Beijing, which have been constant since Tsai came to power in 2016, worsened last summer with the visit of then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which was strongly condemned by the Chinese authorities.
Since then, Taipei has reported an increase in incursions by the Chinese military in its vicinity, reaching a record of 103 aircraft on Sep. 18.
Taiwan has been governed autonomously since 1949, although China claims sovereignty over the island, which it considers a rebel province and with which it has not ruled out “reunification” by use of force. EFE