Taiwan has shown it is already independent and sovereign by electing its own president and has no need for a separate declaration of independence, Vice President William Lai (賴清德) said in an interview with Japanese daily the Yomiuri Shimbun.
Lai, who is leading in opinion polls ahead of presidential elections in January, is the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate.
He has said that he does not seek to change the “status quo” or Taiwan’s formal name, the Republic of China.
Photo: Lin Tsuei-yi, Taipei Times
In an interview with Japanese media, a transcript of which his campaign team released yesterday, Lai was asked about his position on Taiwanese independence.
Taiwan regularly elects leaders at all levels of government, from the grassroots up to the president, he said.
“So in fact, Taiwan is already sovereign and independent,” he said. “If it is not sovereign and independent, how can there be a presidential election?”
“Therefore, there is no need to declare Taiwan’s independence again,” he said. “My job is to protect Taiwan’s sovereignty [and] enhance democracy, peace and prosperity.”
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not answer calls seeking comment.
China has a week-long holiday this week.
Separately in an interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK that aired on Thursday, Lai called for more “security cooperation” with Japan to better ensure the stability of the region as it faces an increasingly assertive China.
Taiwan and Japan should “work together in every possible way” as they are on the front line of “Chinese threats,” Lai said.
China’s efforts to expand its influence have led to tensions in the Indo-Pacific, he said, adding that he looked forward to seeing Taiwan and Japan engage in necessary and plausible security cooperation to maintain peace and stability in the region.
However, he did not elaborate on what he thinks such cooperation should entail.
Lai also called on the world to unite in efforts to counter China’s military threat, if “a contingency” situation is to occur in the region.
“Instead of trying to predict when China would start a war against Taiwan, it is more important for us to have the best preparation all the time, in case of possible military conflict,” he said. “When the international community is united and prepared against possible conflict, then it would lower the likelihood of China launching a war.”
However, “if the international community only sees China’s big market for business opportunities, and does not see how dangerous China has become, then the international unifying force would collapse,” he added.
“It would increase likelihood of a Taiwan contingency situation,” he said.
Asked about dialogue with China on cross-strait relations, Lai said: “We are hopeful to have such dialogue and to push for further cooperation, if Taiwan could be treated with respect and be equal in status, but we cannot give up our national sovereignty, for the sake of dialogue with China.”
“If we lose our national sovereignty, then Taiwan’s freedom and democratic system will cease to exist,” he said, adding that the nation would become “just like Hong Kong and Macau.”
Additional reporting by Jason Pan
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