Taiwan urges China to begin 'benign' interactions with it

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said the government would continue to resolutely defend its sovereignty. PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan's government on Friday (March 5) urged China to begin "benign" interactions with it to gradually resolve disagreements through communication, after China's premier said they would deter activities seeking the Chinese-claimed island's independence.

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council said the government would continue to resolutely defend its sovereignty and Taiwan's democracy and freedom, and that healthy and orderly exchanges were better than "enforced" pressure on the island.

Earlier on Friday, speaking at the opening of the annual meeting of China's parliament, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing stands by the "one China" principle, which states that Taiwan is part of China.

China remains committed "to promoting the peaceful growth of relations across the Taiwan Strait and China's reunification", he told the roughly 3,000 delegates at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

"We will remain highly vigilant against and resolutely deter any separatist activity seeking Taiwan independence," Mr Li added.

"We will promote exchanges, cooperation and integrated development across the Taiwan Strait. Together we can shape a bright future of rejuvenation for our great nation."

China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province to be reunified - by force if necessary - has increased its military activity near the island in recent months, responding to what it calls "collusion" between Taipei and Washington, Taiwan's main international backer and arms supplier.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was re-elected by a landslide last year on a promise of defending the island's democracy and standing up to China.

China believes Ms Tsai wishes to push for Taiwan's formal independence, a red line for the Chinese government.

Ms Tsai says Taiwan is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.

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