BEIJING – After the words of Xi Jinping yesterday on the reunification of Taiwan – “a historic task that must be fulfilled and it will surely be” – Taipei could not fail to respond. And the timely answer came this morning directly from the president of the island, Tsai Ing-wen, during the parade for the national holiday. “Taiwan is at the forefront of defending democracy. We will continue to strengthen our defenses to ensure that no one can force us to accept the path set by China which offers neither freedom nor democracy. We will not act recklessly, but it is certain that the people Taiwanese will not bow to pressure “, the democratic leader scans from the stage set up in front of the presidential palace of the city – between concerts, performances by gymnasts and taekwondo athletes, parades of tanks and jets in the sky – on the occasion of the national day to celebrate the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 which the following year will lead to the birth of the Republic of China (the official name of the island) led by Sun Yat-sen, the “father of the homeland” revered on both sides of the Strait of Formosa.
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The “path” is that of “One country, two systems”, already applied to Hong Kong. What, however, in Taiwan – given the experience of the former British colony – nobody wants. “Taiwan today is no longer seen as the orphan of Asia, but as an island of resilience that can face challenges with courage.”
“The more we accomplish our goals, the stronger the pressure from China becomes,” Tsai recalls, referring to the nearly 150 Chinese People’s Liberation Army aircraft that flew over the island’s air defense identification space in the last week: Beijing’s move to flex its muscles and remind its “rebel province” as well as America and its allies that Taiwan is “an internal matter of China and does not allow external interference”.
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All official communications between Beijing and Taipei have been interrupted since 2016, when Tsai was first elected and explicitly refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus, i.e. the fact that there is only one China, considering the island, in fact, already independent. There has never been an explicit declaration to this effect – and probably never will be – since it represents the real red line not to be crossed for Beijing. For this reason, once again this morning, the leader reiterated her invitation to the Communist government to commit itself to reactivating the dialogue “as equals”, declaring herself in favor of maintaining the status quo between the two neighbors.
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“In Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and Brussels, Taiwan is no longer on the sidelines, with more and more Democratic friends willing to defend us,” Tsai continued. “Taiwan-Japan ties continue to flourish and our relationship with the European Union has strengthened. We have resumed talks with the United States and have applied to join the CPPTP (the trans-Pacific partnership, ed). But today the global political landscape is undergoing a drastic change. The Republic of China is in a more complex and fluid situation today than at any other time in the past 72 years. Every step we take will affect the future direction of our world, and the future direction of our world will also affect the future of Taiwan itself. ”