Taiwan’s leader hopes for reduced tensions with China

Taiwan’s leader hopes for reduced tensions with China

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Saturday she has hopes for less tensions with China and in the region if Beijing will listen to Taipei’s concerns, alter its approach and restart dialogue with the self-ruled island democracy.

Speaking at Taiwan’s National Day celebrations on Saturday, Tsai took note of recent remarks by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a video message to the U.N. General Assembly that China would never seek hegemony, expansion or to establish a sphere of influence.

“As countries in the region and around the world are now concerned about China’s expanding hegemony, we hope this is the beginning of genuine change,” Tsai said in her annual address at the Presidential Office in downtown Taipei.

If Beijing can “heed Taiwan’s voice, change the way it handles cross-strait relations, and jointly facilitate cross-strait reconciliation and peaceful dialogue, I believe that regional tension can surely be resolved,” Tsai said.

China’s ruling Communist Party claims the self-governing island as Chinese territory to be annexed by force if necessary. Beijing cut contacts with Tsai’s government following her election to a first term in 2016 and has steadily increased diplomatic, military and economic pressure on the island of 23 million to compel her to endorse its contention that Taiwan and the mainland constitute a single Chinese nation.