A determined self-defense and consensus-seeking between political parties would be the key factors determining success in any potential armed conflict across the Taiwan Strait and in dealing with an increasingly powerful China which has territorial ambitions toward Taiwan, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday.
“Our determination to defend ourselves would be more important than any imbalance in military capability,” Tsai told about 100 young people at a question-and-answer session following a speech she gave at a youth camp organized by the Taiwan United Nations Alliance.
Waging a war against Taiwan would not be an easy decision for Beijing to take because it would have to weigh the cost of doing so, she said, adding that while peaceful solutions are preferred in all disputes, Taiwanese should arm themselves with a determination to defend their homeland at all costs.
“That way, you would have bargaining chips during negotiations,” Tsai said.
The former DPP presidential candidate said she does not believe that war between Taiwan and China is imminent, but that, in terms of external relations, “every country should be prepared for the worst-case scenario.”
Responding to a question about cross-strait relations, Tsai said that the relationship with Beijing “should not be the primary issue of any electoral campaign in Taiwan.”
“If you pay close attention, Taiwanese people’s visions and hope for future cross-strait relations are not that diverse. You could even say there’s been certain degree of consensus,” she said.
Unfortunately, the issue has always been the battleground between political parties during major elections, with Beijing reaping the benefits of the internal friction in Taiwan, the former DPP chairperson said.
Tsai reiterated that was why she had advocated the building of a “Taiwan consensus” during her presidential campaign, with the initiative being about a national leader who is willing to set his or her own position aside and facilitate a consensus.
During her one-hour speech, Tsai encouraged young people to be willing to start their own businesses and to face risks with courage and assertiveness.
“The younger generation need to challenge traditions, the old ways of doing things and the old values in an age of brutal and merciless global competition,” she said.
Citing the example of Israel, which she recently visited, Tsai said the country has been so aggressive sometimes that it has become a country others love to hate.
“However, Israel and its people have a very strong collective will in fighting for survival, and that deserves our respect,” Tsai said.