Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen marked the New Year with a message to China: military conflict is not the answer.
“We must remind the Beijing authorities not to misjudge the situation and avoid the internal expansion of ‘military adventurism,'” Tsai said Saturday in his New Year’s speech broadcast live on Facebook.
China claims it has democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory and has increased military and diplomatic pressure over the past two years to enforce its sovereignty claims.
In Chinese President Xi Jinping’s New Year’s speech the day before, he said that the complete unification of the “mother country” was an aspiration shared by people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.
Taiwan claims to be an independent country and has repeatedly pledged to defend its freedom and democracy.
“The military is definitely not an option for resolving cross-strait disagreements. Military conflicts would affect economic stability,” Tsai said. “Our two sides jointly assume responsibility for maintaining regional peace and stability.”
Taiwan’s stance has always been “not to succumb to pressure and not to rush forward when receiving support,” Tsai said.
To ease tensions in the region, both Taipei and Beijing must “work hard to care for people’s livelihoods and soothe people’s hearts” in order to find peaceful solutions to problems together, Tsai said.
Tsai also said Taiwan will continue to monitor the situation in Hong Kong, adding that interference in the recent legislative election and this week’s arrests of senior officials at the pro-democracy media outlet Stand News “has made people even more concerned about human rights and freedom of speech in Hong Kong.”
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Stable governance is Taiwan’s most important goal in 2022, said Tsai.
“We will maintain our sovereignty, we will uphold the values of freedom and democracy, we will uphold territorial sovereignty and national security, and we will maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.”