Taipei, Taiwan – December 29: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen speaks at the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rally in Taipei for the 2024 presidential election on December 29, 2023 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photo by Walid Berrazeg/Anadolu from Getty Images)
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Xi’s comments in his New Year’s Eve speech took a stronger tone than the previous year, when he simply said people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are “members of the same family.”
Asked about Xi’s speech at a New Year’s press conference at the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, Tsai said democracy was the most important principle for the direction of relations with China. .
“This will require the collective will of the Taiwanese people to make a decision. After all, we are a democratic country,” she said.
Tsai added that China should respect Taiwan’s election results and that it is the responsibility of both sides to maintain peace and stability across the strait.
China has viewed this election as a choice between war and peace and has repeatedly rejected Tsai’s offers for talks, believing her to be a separatist.
Tsai has made strengthening and modernizing Taiwan’s defenses a priority, including promoting an indigenous submarine program.
“Every house is locked. It’s not to provoke the person next door, but to protect your own safety. The same goes for the doors of the country. Taiwanese people want peace, but… , we want peace with respect,” she said.
Taiwan’s government has repeatedly warned that China is trying to interfere in elections using fake news and military and trade pressure, and Tsai said she wants people to be wary of this.
Last week, China threatened further economic measures after China accused Taiwan of erecting trade barriers and halted some tariff cuts on the island.
Tsai said Taiwanese companies need to look to the world and diversify.
“This is the right path rather than returning to a path of dependence on China, especially as there are unpredictable risks in the volatile Chinese market,” he said.
China has taken particular exception to Lai Ching-de, the current vice president who is the presidential candidate for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Party (Democratic Progressive Party) and is leading by a wide margin in opinion polls, saying he is also a dangerous separatist. Ta.
Both the Democratic Progressive Party and Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang, insist that only islanders can decide their future.
Tsai cannot run again for a second term. She plans to resign in May when the next president takes office.