Taiwan presidential candidate calls for dialog with China

 Taiwanese presidential candidate William Lai, said Tuesday he seeks to maintain peace in the Formosa Strait and dialog with China, four days before the territory’s elections.

“Peace is priceless and there are no winners in a war. Peace is the only option. We want to have dialog and cooperation with China,” the Democratic Progressive Party vice president, also known as Lai Ching-te, said in a press conference before international media, accompanied by his running mate Hsiao Bi-khim.

During his initial intervention, Lai, who leads the polls with about 35 percent of support, spoke of his proposal to “maintain peace and stability” in the region, following the “path” outlined by President Tsai Ing-wen: military deterrence, economic security, ties with democracies and principled leadership.

The candidate said a peace anchored in the “one China principle,” the only approach on which Beijing is willing to engage in talks, “is not a true peace,” and gave as examples the cases of Hong Kong or the Xinjiang autonomous region.

“That is why we think that we have to improve deterrence, strengthen our military capabilities and autonomy (…). “We are determined to defend our homeland,” the 63-year-old politician said.

Lai, who defined himself as a “pragmatic Taiwanese independence worker” in the past, said he sees no need to formally declare the island’s independence, since “Taiwan is already a sovereign and independent country.”

“The status quo is aligned with the common interest of Taiwan, China and the world,” said the candidate, who added that he trusts China will “review” its policy toward Taiwan if he is elected president.

The official candidate also accused Beijing of trying to influence the elections, using coercive and unprecedented measures.

“In these elections, it is clear that China uses the argument of choosing between peace and war to affect the election, trying to establish a pro-China government,” Lai said.

More than 19 million Taiwanese are eligible to vote in Saturday’s elections, in which the candidate will compete with the candidates of the Kuomintang, Hou Yu-ih, and the Taiwan People’s Party, Ko Wen-je.

The current mandate has been marked by the escalation of tensions with China.

Beijing sees Lai’s party as separatists with which China ended communication in 2016 after it won that year’s elections.

Taiwan – where the Chinese nationalist army withdrew after defeat at the hands of communist troops in the civil war – has been governed autonomously since 1949, although China claims sovereignty over the island, which it considers a rebellious province. I has not ruled out the use of force in its objective to reunify

By Mian saeed Ahmed Khan