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1 Dec, 2023 03:14

Beijing too busy to occupy Taiwan – local leader

Taipei’s top official believes international support is “as solid as it has ever been”
Beijing too busy to occupy Taiwan – local leader

The government in Beijing is too “overwhelmed” with domestic issues to launch an attack on Taiwan, the island’s leader Tsai Ing-wen has said, suggesting the People’s Republic has no immediate plans to invade. 

Speaking at an event hosted by the New York Times on Thursday, Tsai said the chances for war remained low, citing both strong international support for Taiwan and reluctance by Beijing, given its “economic and financial as well as political challenges.”

“I think the Chinese leadership at this juncture is overwhelmed by its internal challenges. And my thought is that perhaps this is not a time for them to consider a major invasion of Taiwan,” she said, adding that “the international community has made it loud and clear that war is not an option, and peace and stability serves everybody's interests.”

The Taiwanese president went on to hail continued US support for the island, “particularly on the security front,” and said international backing was also “as solid as it has ever been, if not stronger.” With regard to the possibility of  a conflict with Beijing, she noted that Taipei and Washington have been “managing the risk jointly,” but stated “I think we’re okay in that regard.”

While Taiwan has long been self-governing, Beijing views the island as part of its territory under the One China policy, reserving the right to reunification by force should it formally declare independence. Few nations officially recognize Taiwan as a sovereign state, although Washington maintains informal relations with Taipei and has approved numerous arms sales over the years.

On Monday, Beijing reiterated that it was willing to allow “plenty of space” for peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but warned it would not tolerate separatist activities in Taipei, which is headed for new elections in January.

“I want to emphasize that Taiwan independence means war,” said Chen Binhua, spokesperson for Beijing’s State Council for Taiwan Affairs Office, citing two pro-independence candidates in Taiwan’s presidential race.

At a meeting with US President Joe Biden in California earlier this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that Taiwan remained the most dangerous issue for US-China relations, urging Washington to stop arms sales to the island.

The Chinese military has launched multiple rounds of wargames following high-level meetings between US and Taiwanese officials over the last year, including a massive simulated blockade after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in 2022. A similar demonstration was held last April following a sit-down between Pelosi’s successor, Representative Kevin McCarthy, and Tsai.