Taiwan National Day 2020: President Tsai Ing-wen extends olive branch to China, calls for ‘meaningful dialogue’

Amid heightened tensions between China, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday extended an olive branch calling for “meaningful dialogue” with Beijing on an equal basis.

Speaking at the National Taiwan Day 2020 celebrations, Tsai described the situation in the Taiwan Strait as “quite tense.”

“As long as the Beijing authorities are willing to resolve antagonisms and improve cross-strait relations, while parity and dignity are maintained, we are willing to work together to facilitate meaningful dialogue,” Tsai was quoted as saying by Reuters.

If Beijing can heed Taiwan`s voice and jointly facilitate reconciliation and peaceful dialogue, regional tension can surely be resolved, she added.

This, along with disputes in the South China Sea, a China-India border conflict and China`s crackdown in Hong Kong, showed democracy and peace in the region were facing big challenges, she said.

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 Taiwan Strait`s sensitive midline that normally serves as an unofficial buffer zone.

Tsai said she was committed to maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait, but that this was the responsibility of both sides.

Still, she has made strengthening Taiwan`s armed forces a priority and said she would keep pushing this, upholding the principle of neither seeking war nor fearing it.

“Our commitment to our sovereignty and democratic values will not change, but we will also maintain strategic flexibility and be responsive to changes,” she said, without elaborating.

There was no immediate reaction from China, which cut off a formal talks mechanism in 2016 after she first won office.

The United States has been pushing Taiwan to modernise its military so they can become a “porcupine”, hard for China to attack.

(With Reuters inputs

Taiwan National Day 2020: President Tsai Ing-wen extends olive branch to China, calls for 'meaningful dialogue'