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《TAIPEI TIMES》 ‘Trust, but verify’ Xi’s denial: Hsiao Bi-khim


Democratic Progressive Party vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim speaks to international reporters at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.
Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

Democratic Progressive Party vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim speaks to international reporters at a news conference in Taipei yesterday. Photo: George Tsorng, Taipei Times

2023/11/24 03:00

‘OPEN TO DIALOGUE’: Her alliance with Vice President William Lai is based on their commitment to preserve the nation’s freedom and democracy, Hsiao Bi-khim said

/ Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan should “trust, but verify” reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) denied that Beijing plans to invade Taiwan in 2027, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) told reporters yesterday.

“We anticipate and we hope that Chairman Xi Jinping was sincere when he said there was no timetable” for bringing Taiwan under control by force, said Hsiao, who earlier this week resigned as the representative to the US to join the ticket of DPP nominee, Vice President William Lai (賴清德).

Borrowing a phrase from former US president Ronald Reagan — which US President Joe Biden also used after his bilateral meeting with Xi in San Francisco on Wednesday last week — Hsiao said that Taiwan should “trust, but verify.”

A senior US administration official cited Xi as denying reports that China planned to take military action against Taiwan in 2027 or 2035 during last week’s bilateral meeting.

However, Xi also laid out the conditions under which force could be used, the official said, without specifying what those conditions were.

While the future Lai administration would welcome every opportunity to work with Beijing to maintain the “status quo,” Taiwan needs to continue building up its capability so as to deal with cross-strait relations with more confidence, Hsiao said.

Hsiao alluded to a “four-pillar plan” for peace proposed by Lai, with Taiwan boosting its defense capability and economic security, while seeking international partnerships and “principled and pragmatic” cross-strait relations.

The plan was modeled on the policy of outgoing President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), with whom Beijing has refused to establish official contact, despite repeated requests during her eight years in office.

However, with Beijing labeling Lai and Hsiao as “separatists,” Hsiao was asked how the DPP ticket aims to resume government-to-government talks if elected in January.

Hsiao reiterated that they “remain open to dialogue” and would be “committed to the status quo.”

“It’s also important that [those in] the international community who agree with our position in continuing peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait make clear to our counterpart across the Taiwan Strait that dialogue is the only way to resolve differences,” Hsiao said.

“War is not an option,” she added.

When it comes to the US, Taiwan has to forge unified and bipartisan support, Hsiao said, adding that expanding broad support among Americans was critical.

“American support to Taiwan cannot be limited to the beltway,” Hsiao said, referring to the Washington political scene. “A rock solid partnership with the United States is critically important right now.”

Speaking of her decision to join Lai’s ticket, Hsiao, who had served four non-consecutive terms as a legislator prior to being posted to Washington in 2020, acknowledged having “tremendous hesitation” about returning to Taiwan and getting involved again in domestic politics.

While such a decision was “not an easy one,” Hsiao said that her alliance with Lai was forged based on their shared commitment to preserve Taiwan’s freedom and democracy.

Additional reporting by Reuters

新聞來源:TAIPEI TIMES

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