Taiwan's Tsai vows to defend island, lambasts China

Cheryl Sanders
October 12, 2019

Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders spoke with Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen at a diplomacy and regional security forum in Taipei earlier this week. She said if China's "one country, two systems" is accepted, there would no longer be any room for the existence of Taiwan.

China cut off contact with Tsai's government shortly after her inauguration in 2016 because she rejects Beijing's claim to the island.

Tsai says Taiwan is the first line of defense for democratic values in the Indo Pacific region.

New Power Party (NPP) legislative caucus whip Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明) said that Tsai's address contained two major points: Letting Beijing and the global community know Taiwan's rejection of "one country, two systems" and highlighting the words "Republic of China (Taiwan)" - a consensus beyond party lines.

Tsai is now running about 13 points ahead of Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu in Tawian's January presidential election.

Taiwan's president on Thursday delivered a fiery rebuke to China's offer of a "one country, two systems" formula to unify the self-governing island with the mainland, saying that such a framework has taken Hong Kong to "the brink of disorder".

With an election due in January, Tsai sought to appeal to a broad range of people, referring throughout the speech to the Republic of China.

From Beijing's perspective, the need "to guard against external interference and a tiny number of separatists and their separatist activities for "Taiwan independence" is another regular injunction, and was evident again in remarks carried by official news agency Xinhua ahead of Xi's speech.

She said Taiwan has together faced many serious challenges over 70 years and "rather than defeating us, these challenges have made us stronger and more determined".

Taiwan has lost seven diplomatic allies over the past three years, including Kiribati and Solomon islands in September ahead of China's National Day on October 1.

Today, just 15 countries, small and mostly impoverished, recognize Taiwan.

Sanders said that while Trump had taken a hard line against Beijing on trade, he had also sought to strengthen USA relations with allies across Asia including Taiwan since taking office, and the signing of the Taiwan Travel Act, the sale of F-16V fighter jets, combat tanks and missiles, plus ever closer military exchanges between the U.S. and Taiwan were all proof of a concrete partnership.

"The speech is informative in that it reiterates the key talking points that President Tsai and DPP legislative candidates will repeat in the remaining three months of the presidential and legislative election campaigns", he said. But following U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's blistering broadside against China in October previous year, the Taiwanese leader has also ramped up the rhetoric. About 80% of Taiwanese oppose unification with China, per government surveys in January and March. China insists that was possible because Ma endorsed Beijing's one-China principle implying that both sides were part of a single Chinese nation.

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