President of Taiwan Letter to Pope Francis, Calling War with China Not an Option. PHOTO/Reuters
TAIPEI – President Taiwan Tsai Ing-wen has written Pope Francis to say that war between Taiwan and China is not an option. According to Tsai, only by respecting the Taiwanese people’s insistence on sovereignty and freedom can healthy relations with Beijing be established.
The Vatican is the only European diplomatic ally Taiwan has. And, Taiwan has watched with concern as Pope Francis moves to improve relations with China. The democratically governed island has only formal relations with 14 countries, mostly due to pressure from China.
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In a letter sent in response to the Pope’s message on World Peace Day on Jan. 1, Tsai said the war in Ukraine has made the world appreciate the value of peace and maintaining regional security has become an important consensus.
“In my National Day speech last year, I reiterated that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is the basis for the development of cross-Strait relations and armed confrontation is absolutely not an option,” Tsai said, according to a copy of the letter released by her office on Monday ( 23/1/2023).
“Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy and freedom can be the basis for continuing constructive interactions across the Taiwan Strait,” Tsai said, referring to a speech she gave on October 10 last year.
China staged war games near Taiwan last August, and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to control the island.
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Tsai wrote that Taiwan has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, and provided masks and protective equipment to countries during the COVID-19 pandemic, out of “hopes to provide a better Taiwan to the world”.
“Although we are still excluded from the World Health Organization, we believe that taking the lead in making a positive contribution will encourage a ‘circle of goodness’,” he added.
Taiwan has repeatedly complained that its exclusion from the WHO, due to Chinese pressure, has hampered efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither the WHO nor China have denied this.
Taiwan rejects China’s claims of sovereignty, saying only the island’s 23 million people can determine their future.
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