Taiwan President calls on China to engage in talks, vows to maintain peace

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday (Oct 10) called on China to engage in talks with Taiwan.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday (Oct 10) called on China to engage in talks with Taiwan. PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI (REUTERS, AFP) - Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Monday (Oct 10) called on China to engage in talks with Taiwan, pledging to maintain peace with the island's giant neighbour.

"The two sides should sit down and talk as soon as possible. As long as they are conducive to the peaceful development of the two sides of the (Taiwan) Strait and to the well-being of the people on both sides of the Strait, anything can be discussed," Ms Tsai said in a speech marking the founding of the island.

Relations with Beijing have deteriorated under Taiwan’s first female president, whose China-sceptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office in May after a landslide victory over the Kuomintang party (KMT).

Ms Tsai has refused to accept the concept of “one China”, prompting Beijing to cut off all official communication with the island’s new government.

China sees self-ruling Taiwan as part of its territory requiring reunification.

In a speech marking Taiwan’s National Day, Ms Tsai urged both sides to “set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue”.

While Ms Tsai said she did not want Taiwan and China to go down “the old path of confrontation”, her government would not “bow to pressure” from Beijing.

Taipei has accused Beijing of pressuring a number of countries, including Armenia and Kenya, to deport Taiwanese fraud suspects to China rather than their home territory.

Taiwan has also blamed China for blocking it from attending international events, including a major United Nations aviation meeting in Canada last month and a series of forums in semi-autonomous Hong Kong.

“This is our fundamental attitude towards maintaining the status quo and it is based on the collective hope for peace across the Taiwan Strait,” Ms Tsai said.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing improved under the previous China-friendly KMT government, but left many Taiwanese fearing the island’s sovereignty was under threat.