Taiwanese President Tsai Ing -wen had a New Year’s message for China on Saturday: military conflict is not the answer, but Beijing responded with a stern warning that if Taiwan crossed the red line it would lead to “severe disaster”.
China claims to democratically govern Taiwan as its own territory and increased military and diplomatic pressure in the past two years to assert its sovereignty claim.
“We must remind the Beijing authorities not to blame the situation and prevent the internal expansion of‘ military adventure ’,” Tsai said Saturday in his New Year’s speech, broadcast live on Facebook.
Taiwan states that it is an independent country and has repeatedly vowed to defend its freedom and democracy.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a New Year’s speech on Friday that the complete unification of the “motherland” is an aspiration shared by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
On Saturday, after Tsai’s speech, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, said: “We are willing to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification.”
“But if the ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces continue to provoke and coerce, or even cross the red line, we must take important action.”
Pursuing independence will only throw Taiwan into a “deep abyss” and cause “severe disasters”, Zhu added.
In recent months, Beijing has sent air missions in the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan has said it will not give in to the threat.
“The military is definitely not an option to resolve cross-strait disagreements. Military conflict will impact economic stability,” Tsai said.
To ease tensions in the region, Taipei and Beijing should “work hard to take care of people’s livelihoods and calm people’s hearts” in order to find peaceful solutions to common problems, he said.
Tsai also stated that Taiwan will continue to monitor the situation in Hong Kong, adding that disruptions in the recent legislative elections and the arrest of senior staff this week at the pro-democracy media outlet Stand News “make people more worried about human rights and freedoms speech in Hong Kong “.
“We will hold fast to our sovereignty, uphold the values of freedom and democracy, maintain regional sovereignty and national security, and maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Tsai said.