Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen has informed Pope Francis in a letter that war with China is “not an option.”
The President wrote that constructive interaction with Beijing, which claims the island as part of its territory, depends on respecting self-ruled Taiwan’s democracy.
Vatican City is the last European government to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of Beijing, although the United States and other Western nations maintain extensive informal ties. Taiwanese leaders are uneasy about Vatican efforts to develop relations with Beijing.
Tsai, in the letter released by her office, expressed support for the Vatican’s position on Russia’s war against Ukraine, “migrant-friendly policies” and public health.
“We identify profoundly with your views,” Tsai wrote.
Tsai also added that Taiwan’s desire for peace and respect for the people as a nation are key factors in ensuring freedom in the region, referring to her National Day address in October 2022.
“Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom, can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait.”Tsai Ing-wen
Taiwan has been under constant pressure from China which considers the country a part of its territory and denies the sovereignty that Taiwan claims.
In August, China staged military exercises near Taiwan’s borders raising tension across the strait.
President Tsai, referring to Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti, highlighted Taiwan’s resolve to “partner with like-minded nations to support reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.”
In March 2022, Taiwan donated funds totaling more than US$30 million and distributed around 650 tons of material supplies to assist the millions of Ukrainian refugees displaced by war.
Taiwan has been lauded globally for its highly successful countermeasures against the Covid-19 pandemic. The nation has lent support to other countries with medical equipment and expertise.
“Taiwan contributes its utmost, donating masks and protective equipment, and providing the needy and helpless with material supplies,” the letter read.
Tsai, in her letter, also highlighted that Taiwan is forging steadily toward the goal of net-zero emissions in 2050 to tackle climate change.
“We will collaborate with the Holy See on numerous environmental projects, which include promoting smart agriculture, solar energy systems, and electric vehicles,” the letter stated.
Tsai also highlighted the fact that Taiwan has been excluded from the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Although Taiwan continues to be excluded from the World Health Organization, we are confident that our contributions as a leading positive force will help bring about a virtuous cycle. We wholeheartedly hope that in the near future, the WHO’s goal of health for all can be truly achieved.”President Tsai Ing-wen
Taiwan’s Bid To Join The WHO Thwarted By China
Taiwan’s bid to join the WHO as a member or an observer has been thwarted by China through diplomatic pressure.
Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war and have no official relations but are linked by billions of dollars in trade and investment. The Chinese Communist Party regularly flies fighter planes and bombers near Taiwan to enforce its stance that the island is obliged to unite with the mainland, by force if necessary.
“Armed confrontation is absolutely not an option,” Tsai wrote.
China stepped up efforts to pressure the island, including firing missiles into the sea, after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the U.S. House of Representatives in August became the highest-ranking American official to visit the island in 25 years.
Legislators from Britain and other countries also have visited Taiwan in a show of support for its elected government.
A former Taiwanese Vice President under Tsai, Chen Chien-jen, represented the island at this month’s funeral of former Pope Benedict.