By Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard
TAIBI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said on Saturday that Taiwan wants to hold a “meaningful dialogue” with China on an equal footing, extending an olive branch at a time of escalating military tension with Beijing, which claims the island is a Chinese sovereign. Area.
Democratic Taiwan has come under increasing pressure from Beijing, which has ramped up air force activity near the island in the past few weeks, including crossing the sensitive center line of the Taiwan Strait that usually acts as an informal buffer zone.
China says it is responding to “collusion” between Washington and Taipei, angered by growing US support for the autonomous island. Beijing considers this a prelude to Taiwan’s formal declaration of independence, and it is a red line for China.
Speaking at the National Day celebrations, Tsai described the situation in the Taiwan Strait as “very tense.” She said this, along with the disputes in the South China Sea, the border dispute between China and India and the Chinese oppression in Hong Kong, showed that democracy and peace in the region face great challenges.
She added that if Beijing can listen to Taiwan’s voice and jointly facilitate reconciliation and peaceful dialogue, then regional tension can definitely be resolved.
“As long as the Beijing authorities are ready to resolve disputes and improve cross-strait relations, while maintaining equality and dignity, we are ready to work together to facilitate meaningful dialogue,” Tsai said.
There was no immediate response from China, which cut off the formal talks mechanism in 2016 after winning the position for the first time.
Tsai said she is committed to maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait, but that is the responsibility of both sides.
However, it has made the strengthening of Taiwan’s armed forces a priority and said it will continue to push for this, sticking to the principle of not pursuing or fearful of war.
“Our commitment to our sovereignty and our democratic values will not change, but we will also maintain strategic flexibility and respond to the changes,” she said, without elaborating.
The United States was pressing Taiwan to modernize its army so that they would become a “porcupine”, which is difficult for China to attack. Washington, like most countries, does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taipei, although it is its strongest global supporter.
(Prepared by Yimo Lee and Ben Blanchard; Editing by William Mallard)