Taiwan said on Tuesday that President Tsai Ing-wen’s “strong leadership” had heralded a new era of peace and democracy after China staged a military drill just weeks after she and her predecessor signed a historic political deal.

Tsai has irritated Beijing by resisting China’s efforts to use Taiwan as a flashpoint on the world stage and to roll back the mainland’s freedom of navigation in disputed waters.

But years of business deals have made ties increasingly friendly. The presidents of China, Taiwan and the United States attended separate events at the China-Taiwan Association of Economic Cooperation (CETA) summit, an economic initiative between China and Taiwan.

“Our island is moving forward while under the sea of the ‘national tide,'” said Taipei’s Chief Chen Chien-lai, president of the Ma Ying-jeou administration, wearing a traditional red gown, the white national dress of the island, an interpretation of the traditional red custom.

“Today is the very beginning, the beginning of an era for our beloved country and for Taiwan in the region,” said Chen.

China has labelled Tsai a “non-conformist renegade” who will return to Taiwan after her “sovereignty pledge” to reunite Taiwan was legally scrapped.

Its leadership is in the midst of changing under President Xi Jinping.

Beijing sees any incursion of an island like the one Taiwan occupies as a threat to national security and has led calls for the island to self-ruled and thus closer to China, a stance that has triggered major street protests.

China’s navy and air force conducted drills in the South China Sea late last week, the United States said in June.

China’s navy, air force and coast guard each conducted five amphibious landings in the Bay of Bengal last week, compared with one last month.

Tsai has said Taiwan will strengthen defensive forces to protect its sovereignty.

Military pledges

Beijing gave Tsai a declaration of formal independence but in exchange she agreed to open dialogue with the island’s government, an understanding which she formally initiated on July 8, sparking a flurry of political events to mark the occasion.

Bilateral ties are now at their highest since July 2016, while the value of Taiwanese exports to China has topped $48 billion for the first time in a decade.

“Mr. President, I personally pay solemn tribute to the Taiwan people for their strong leadership and resilience that helped us achieve this breakthrough,” Chen said.

While large and growing Taiwanese companies are doing business with China, it is still officially a state-owned enterprise. China cannot award such contracts directly on its mainland without a deal signed by Ma’s government.

The presidential office said Tsai reiterated the need for honest and respectful dialogue and talked about how dialogue was “essential to the common prosperity and security of both nations”.

“The President of the Republic of China called on China and other countries to play active roles in increasing mutual understanding,” an office of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in a statement.

She also congratulated President Xi on a visit to Taiwan last month, where they signed a formal truce between the two sides to step back from historical tensions.

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2020-09-19