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Taiwan must 'step up defences' amid China's coercive tactics: Hsiao Bi-khim

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 23 June 2024, 10:16 IST
Hsiao Bi-khim

Taipei [Taiwan]: Vice President Hsiao Bi-khim has said that Taiwan needs to "strengthen its defences" as long as China persists in its coercive tactics and refuses to rule out the use of force to annex Taiwan.

While addressing an event hosted by British think tank Chatham House on Thursday, when asked about Beijing's perception of President Lai's inaugural speech as provocative, Hsiao responded that it is Beijing that is the "provocateur" in the cross-strait relationship.

Taiwan's Defence Against Chinese Coercion

She said China should seek to assure Taiwan by "renouncing the use of force," Taiwan News reported. Further, Hsiao stressed, "And as long as China does not renounce the use of force against Taiwan and as long as they continue to exercise coercion, we have no choice but to also step up our defences."

Global Conflicts and Taiwan's Freedom

She cited the regression of basic human and civil rights in Hong Kong and Russia's invasion of Ukraine as reminders that Taiwan cannot take its freedom and peace for granted.

Dialogue Holds Hope

Highlighting the ongoing conflicts, between Taiwan and China, the vice president asserted that dialogue could be the only possible way forward, adding their doors will continue to be open to dialogue based on parity and respect.

Taiwan's Stance on Dialogue vs Coercion

Hsiao asserted, "War is not an option and dialogue is the only way forward. Although Beijing continues to impose preconditions that are unacceptable to the people of Taiwan, our doors will continue to be open to dialogue based on parity and respect."

She added that like former President Tsai Ing-wen, the Lai administration's policy is "We will not provoke but neither will we submit to coercion."

President Lai's Policy and Global Engagement

According to Taiwan News, during her address, she also discussed President Lai Ching-te's Four Pillars of Peace, as well as issues such as Uyghur human rights, the New Southbound Policy, and the development of Taiwan's semiconductor industry.

Taiwan's Resilience

Hsiao stated that Taiwan currently faces significant challenges, testing the resilience and adaptability of its society. She highlighted that authoritarian regimes pose a threat to Taiwan by undermining democracy and human rights through political warfare, cyber intrusions, economic coercion, and military threats.

Global Response to Authoritarian Expansion

She further noted that as these regimes expand their influence, democratic nations face increasing pressure and must respond with unified and strong measures to protect freedom and uphold democratic principles.

Emphasising Taiwan's democratic progress, Hsiao pointed out that since 1996, Taiwan has conducted multiple presidential elections, resulting in three peaceful transfers of power, as per Taiwan News.

While striving to maintain its hard-won freedoms and democratic way of life, Taiwan also faces significant security threats and various gray-zone hybrid actions.

Lai Administration's Focus

Hsiao outlined Lai's inauguration emphasis on democracy, peace, and prosperity as the link between Taiwan and the world. She reaffirmed the "Four Pillars of Peace" action plan, guiding the new government's policies and actions for the coming years.

Taiwan's Strategy

The first pillar is strengthening Taiwan's defensive capabilities to achieve deterrence and prevent conflict. The second pillar involves economic resilience, with Taiwan aiming to bolster trade with like-minded democratic countries, seek membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and pursue bilateral trade agreements with more partners.

 International Support for Cross-Strait Stability

The third pillar focuses on international partnerships, with recent statements from the G7 leaders reaffirming the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait for global security and prosperity, supporting Taiwan's meaningful participation in international affairs.

The fourth pillar is demonstrating leadership in stable and principled cross-strait relations, maintaining the status quo as the greatest common denominator among stakeholders.

(With ANI inputs)

First published: 23 June 2024, 10:16 IST