Taiwan's Tsai Ing-wen delivers CNY greetings, veiled barb at China

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivered New Year's wishes in various languages, including Mandarin, Minnan, and Hakka, in a video released on Feb 3, 2019. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK

TAIPEI (DPA) - Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen delivered Chinese New Year greetings in a video message released late on Sunday (Feb 3), as the island prepares for the arrival of the Year of the Pig.

Ms Tsai delivered New Year's wishes in various languages, including Mandarin, Minnan and Hakka. She also addressed ethnic Chinese living outside Taiwan in both Cantonese and Teochew, and added "Happy Lunar New Year" in English for foreign visitors to the country at the end of the video.

"In Taiwan, we are able to maintain our cultural traditions, while also enjoying freedom and democracy. This is a blessing, and these are also the values that we Taiwanese are committed to upholding," Ms Tsai said.

"Those in places lacking democracy may not be able to understand this commitment," she added, in a veiled reference to China.

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for Taiwan's "reunification" with China, by force if necessary. Ms Tsai rebuked Mr Xi within hours of his remarks.

Taiwan is a self-governing democratic island off the south-east coast of China that Beijing considers part of its territory.

On Tuesday, revellers will bid farewell to the Year of the Dog and usher in the Year of the Pig, in keeping with the 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle.

The Chinese New Year or Spring Festival is celebrated across China as well as in Taiwan and overseas Chinese communities.

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