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article imageTaiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen, in her own words

By AFP     Jun 25, 2018 in World

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen highlighted the need to preserve global freedoms and welcomed the island's warming ties with the United States in an exclusive interview with AFP Monday.

Below are five of the key points in full:

- China pressure -

Q: What countermeasures do you take against pressure from China?

A: We must continue to strengthen our democracy, economy and national capacity to protect our country and the values we cherish.

But in addition to this, this is not just Taiwan's challenge, it is a challenge for the region and the world as a whole. Because today it's Taiwan, but tomorrow it may be any other country that will have to face the expansion of China's influence. Their democracy, freedom, and freedom to do business will one day be affected by China. We need to work together to reaffirm our values of democracy and freedom in order to constrain China and also minimise the expansion of their hegemonic influence.

- Regional threats -

Q: According to you, what is the biggest threat to stability for this region? Is it China's expansion or the DPRK (North Korea) nuclear programme?

A: I think that both things that you mentioned are factors leading to instability or representing threats to regional peace. While I am pleased to see the positive developments taking place on the Korean Peninsula, I also hope that China's expansion can take into account their position as a major power in the region, and their attitude towards maintaining peace, stability, and an atmosphere of respect in the region. This is the attitude that a major country in the region should have.

- Belt and Road -

Q: Some countries in Asia, and not only in Asia, regard China's expansion, including through the One Belt, One Road programme, as a threat and not a benefit to the countries where it goes. Do you agree with that or do you think it is good for peace and stability, and beneficial to everyone in the world?

A: It may be positive or it may be negative. It would have to depend on China. If China's Belt and Road initiative comes with good intentions, which is to assist the economic development of other countries, I trust that other countries will feel China's goodwill -– and this will be a positive thing.

However, if there are ulterior motives behind China's Belt and Road initiative, such as an intention to interfere with their domestic politics or influence their strategic position, this may not be something that other countries would want to see. Because basically, every country wants to protect their sovereignty, their values, and avoid interference from a third country.

- US relations -

Q: How would you describe your relations with the United States?

A: In recent years, we have started to feel growing support for Taiwan from the US, including from the Executive Branch, Congress, and also the general public. In particular, over the past two years, Congress has taken measures that are very supportive of Taiwan. So I would say that overall, Taiwan-US relations are in a state of growth. This is a stable and friendly relationship.

- Vatican ties -

Q: How do you see the growing relations and dialogue between the Vatican (one of Taiwan's official allies) and China? Is that something you fear?

A: We are watching this in a calm and rational manner. But at the same time, we are also paying close attention to some of the matters that those parties are more concerned about in those negotiations. I think many other countries are also watching the developments closely because this will have an impact on religious freedom and the protection of religious freedom. This will be a chance for us to see to what extent China will be able to respect religious freedom and a chance for China to demonstrate their stances and position on this issue.

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