Tsai Ing-wen: War with China 'not an option'
Tsai Ing-wen: War with China 'not an option'

Taiwan: War with China is "not an option," according to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who also wrote a letter to Pope Francis. Beijing, which claims the island as part of its territory, must be engaged in productive dialogue in order for Taiwan's democracy to be respected.

Although the United States and other Western countries continue to maintain close informal ties, the Vatican City is the last European government to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan rather than Beijing. Leaders in Taiwan are uneasy about the Vatican's attempts to build ties with Beijing.

Tsai supported Vatican stances on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, "migrant-friendly policies," and public health in the letter made public by her office.

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We fervently concur with your viewpoints," Tsai wrote.

After a civil war, Taiwan and China split in 1949; they no longer have formal diplomatic ties but are still connected by trade and investment worth billions of dollars. The Chinese Communist Party routinely flies bombers and fighters close to Taiwan in an effort to enforce its position that the island must join the mainland, by force if necessary.

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Tsai mentioned Francis's call for eradicating the "virus of war" in his message for the World Day of Peace on January 1. She used a quote from a speech she gave on October 10 in which she called for "peace and stability" and rejected armed conflict across the Taiwan Strait.

Fighting with weapons is not an option at all. Tsai penned.

The basis for resuming fruitful communication across the Taiwan Strait can only be established by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom, Tsai wrote in her letter.

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After then-U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi made history by visiting the island in August as the highest-ranking American official to do so in 25 years, China stepped up its pressure on the island, including by launching missiles into the ocean. To support Taiwan's elected government, lawmakers from Britain and other nations have also travelled there.

At the former Pope Benedict's funeral this month, Chen Chien-jen, a former vice president of Taiwan under Tsai, represented the island.

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