New president says he wants to work with China

THE country’s new president said that he is still ready to work with China despite this week’s military drills around the self-ruled island.

The drills began around Taiwan on Thursday, just three days after Lai Ching-te was sworn in.

Lai told reporters yesterday that he wanted Taiwan and China to “jointly shoulder the important responsibility of regional stability”.

“I also look forward to enhancing mutual understanding and reconciliation through exchanges and cooperation with China... and moving towards a position of peace and common prosperity,” he said yesterday at an event in Taipei.

Communications between China and Taiwan were severed in 2016 after former president Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took office, pledging to defend Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Lai, also a DPP member, had vowed to maintain Tsai’s policies of building up Taiwan’s defence capabilities while remaining open to dialogue with China and strengthening relations with the island’s partners – particularly the United States.

Wen-ti Sung, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, said Lai would “hold firm to project resolve” during this first interaction between his administration and Beijing.

“However, he will no doubt be looking to leverage other international partners and friends to help facilitate more back-channel communications with Beijing,” Sung said.

Since 2016, Beijing has upped military and political pressures on Taiwan, and its naval vessels, drones and warplanes maintain a near-daily presence around the island. — AFP

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