Taiwan offers aid to Beijing amid resurgence of Covid cases

The Taiwanese president offered her help to Beijing with the resurgence of Covid infections in mainland China.

In a peaceful speech, President Tsai Ing-wen said the Taiwanese were “ready to provide necessary aid based on humanitarian concerns” to Beijing, “as long as there is a need”.

The democratic island of Taiwan of 24 million inhabitants nevertheless lives under the constant threat of an invasion from China, which considers it part of its territory to be reconquered one day, and if necessary by force.

The president added that she hoped Taiwanese aid could “help more people come out of the pandemic and have a safe New Year.”

Epidemic and military pressure

China is facing an explosion in Covid-19 cases after abruptly abandoning its strict “zero-Covid” policy last month, three years after the coronavirus emerged in the city of Wuhan.

In his televised New Year’s address on Saturday, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the “light of hope is ahead of us”, with epidemic prevention and control entering “a new phase”.

But Xi Jinping also asserted, in another speech on Friday, that Beijing had “resolutely fought the separatists’ attempts to achieve Taiwan independence and the intervention of outside forces in this perspective”.

Relations between Taiwan and China deteriorated in 2022, with Beijing stepping up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on the self-governing island. In August, Beijing held massive military drills near the island to protest a visit to Taipei by American Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives.

War is not an option

In her traditional New Year’s speech on Sunday, Tsai Ing-wen said China’s military activities around Taiwan were “of no help” to maintaining relations between the two sides.

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“War has never been an option to solve problems. Only dialogue, cooperation and the common goal of promoting regional stability and development can make more people feel safe and happy,” she said.

A joint mission for Taiwan and China in 2023 is to “restore healthy and sustainable post-pandemic exchanges between people on both sides” of the Taiwan Strait, the Taiwanese president added.

“We also have a common duty to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region,” she said.

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