‘War is not an option’, Taiwan president says amid China tensions By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO-Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen makes a speech at the pro-Taiwan independence group Formosan Association for Public Affairs 40th anniversary gala in Taipei, Taiwan May 1, 2023. REUTERS/Ann Wang

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen vowed on Saturday to maintain the status quo of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait amid high tensions with China, which has stepped up military pressure on the democratically governed island.

Taiwan will not provoke and will not bow to Chinese pressure, Tsai said in a speech in the presidential office in Taipei marking the seventh anniversary of her governance.

China, which considers Taiwan as its own and threatens to bring the island under its control if necessary, has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure to force the island to accept Chinese sovereignty since Tsai took office in 2016.

Beijing has rebuffed calls for talks from Tsai, regarding her to be a separatist. Tsai has repeatedly vowed to defend Taiwan’s freedom and democracy.

“War is not an option. Neither side can unilaterally change the status quo with non-peaceful means,” Tsai said. “Maintaining the status quo of peace and stability is the consensus for both the world and Taiwan.”

“Although Taiwan is surrounded by risks, it is by no means a risk maker. We are a responsible risk manager and Taiwan will stand together with democratic countries and communities around the world to jointly defuse the risks,” she said.

Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) rich nations agreed they were seeking a peaceful resolution to issues on Taiwan, the host of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, said on Friday.

Tsai said Taiwan officials are in discussions with the U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on sending $500 million worth of weapons aid to Taiwan, adding that the aid was meant to address deliveries of weapons delayed due to COVID-19.

She stressed the global importance of Taiwan’s supply china, which produce most of the world’s advanced semiconductor chips, and vowed to keep the most advanced chip technologies and research and development centres in Taiwan.

Taiwan is gearing up for a key presidential election in mid-January, with China tensions set to top the campaign agenda.

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