China should not think there is room for compromise in the commitment of Taiwan’s people to democracy and freedom, she said.
“I want to make clear to the Beijing authorities that armed confrontation is absolutely not an option for our two sides. Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait.”
There was no immediate reaction from Beijing.
China calls Tsai – re-elected by a landslide in 2020 on a promise to stand up to Beijing – a separatist and refuses to speak to her.
Tsai’s speech comes less than a week before China’s ruling Communist Party’s congress opens in Beijing, where President Xi Jinping is widely expected to win a precedent-breaking third five-year term.
An official familiar with Tsai’s thinking, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters the president was looking to “clearly convey” her position to the world and Beijing.
“Standing firm on the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is the main axis of Tsai’s comments on cross-strait relations this year,” the official said, adding this was the world’s expectation and responsibility of both Taipei and Beijing.
“NO ROOM FOR COMPROMISE”
Tsai said, to applause, that her government looked forward to the gradual post-pandemic resumption of healthy and orderly people-to-people exchanges across the strait, which would ease tensions.
But the broad consensus in Taiwan is that its sovereignty and free and democratic way of life must be defended, she added.