Taiwan is already an independent country and China needs to accept this reality and give it the due respect, President Tsai Ing-wen, above, said during an interview with BBC aired on Jan 15.
She also warned China against any military adventurism, saying it would be very costly for Beijing.
Tsai’s comments came days after she got re-elected.
China cannot go on threatening Taiwan which is a vibrant democracy with a robust economy, she said.
On the chances of peace talks with Beijing, she said it would be possible only if China accepts the reality (independence) of Taiwan. That possibility seems remote since China has been mounting tensions on Taiwan ever since Tsai took office during her first term in 2016.
China sent provocative missions and conducted drills using military aircraft and warships around Taiwan. The crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong confirmed Taiwan’s fears that the threat from China is real and it will be getting worse, the president said.
On the possibility of a Chinese invasion, Tsai said her country’s military is prepared to meet any eventuality and invading Taiwan will prove very costly for China.
Taiwan does not need to declare its independence as it is an independent country already. It is called the Republic of China (ROC) and has its own government, military and elections, Tsai said.
China reacted sharply to Tsai’s views at a regular press briefing later.
Ma Xiaoguang, China’s spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Council, said any independence move by Taiwan would not be tolerated adding that China wants peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing sees Taiwan as China’s territory which it can take back by force.
Taiwan believes China will not take such a step considering the international outrage it will cause.
Tsai’s comments during the BBC interview did not come as a surprise. In her speech after swearing in as President in 2016, she had referred to Taiwan as a ‘country’ 24 times which angered China.
She also did not acknowledge the ‘one China’ deal between China and Taiwan known as the ‘1992 consensus’. In her speech, she called it ‘meetings’ instead of ‘consensus’.
She also said the ties between China and Taiwan must be based on historical and political realities including the existence of ROC and its democracy.