Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen opened 2021 by reaffirming her willingness to talk with China, while vowing to stand up to mounting military pressure from Beijing.
Tsai used a brief News Year’s Day address Friday to criticize the near-daily patrols of Chinese military ships and aircraft that have stretched Taiwan’s more limited military resources. She warned that the actions had “threatened the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region,” while calling on Beijing to restore communication channels it cut off after her election in 2016.
“We are willing to jointly promote meaningful dialogue,” Tsai said, so long as Beijing is willing to “defuse antagonism and improve cross-strait relations, in line with the principles of reciprocity and dignity.”
The Taiwanese president has sought to position her democratically elected government as a bulwark against increasing Chinese influence in the region. Beijing considers Taiwan as part of its territory, despite having never controlled it, and has sought to raise the pressure on Tsai by luring away diplomatic partners and expanding military patrols around the island.