Vice President William Lai (賴清德) spelled out his plan for preserving peace in the Taiwan Strait in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Tuesday.
Lai — who is the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate — in the article proposed four “pillars” of peace, beginning with the need for Taiwan to continue building its defense capabilities, to reduce “the risk of armed conflict by raising the stakes and the costs for Beijing.”
Expanding on the reforms made by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Lai said he would expedite Taiwan’s transition into an asymmetric fighting force, while also focusing on civil defense, and greater cooperation with partners and allies.
The second pillar was the notion that “economic security is national security,” he wrote.
Despite Taiwan’s economic achievements, trade dependencies on China have created vulnerabilities that can be exploited through economic coercion, he said.
To ease that dependency, Taiwan must not only support its local industries, but also “foster secure supply chains while pursuing trade agreements that encourage trade diversification,” he said.
Lai stressed the importance of partnerships with democracies around the world.
The “record numbers” of visits in the past few years by think tanks, non-governmental organizations, parliamentarians and official delegations have shown Beijing that despite its pressure, Taiwan does not stand alone, he wrote.
The fourth component was a commitment to “steady and principled cross-strait leadership,” he said.
His top priorities in that area would be “pragmatism and consistency,” despite Beijing ratcheting up military and economic pressure on Taiwan, and cutting off established lines of communication, he said.
“I will support the cross-strait status quo — which is in the best interests of both the Republic of China, as Taiwan is formally known, and the international community,” he said. “I will [also] never rule out the possibility of dialogue without preconditions, based on the principles of reciprocity and dignity.”
On Monday, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) — the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate — told TVBS political talk show host Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康) during an interview that his basic position was that cross-strait ties were of the highest priority and that stability in the Taiwan Strait would determine how military service is handled.
The cross-strait relationship has become dangerous under the DPP government and it had no choice but to extend compulsory military service to one year starting next year, Hou said.
Former Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) — the Taiwan People’s Party chairman and presidential candidate — last month said that if elected president, he would restart talks on the cross-strait service trade agreement for closer economic integration with China.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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