War with China is “not an option,” according to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, who also wrote a letter to Pope Francis. Beijing, which claims the island as part of its territory, must be engaged in productive dialogue for Taiwan’s democracy to be respected.
Although the United States and other Western countries continue to retain close informal links, the Vatican City is the last European government to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan rather than Beijing.
Leaders in Taiwan are uncomfortable with the Vatican’s attempts to build ties with Beijing.
Tsai supported Vatican stances on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “migrant-friendly policies,” and public health in the letter made public by her office.
We strongly agree with your viewpoints, Tsai wrote.
After a civil war, Taiwan and China divided in 1949; they no longer have formal diplomatic ties but are nonetheless connected through trade and investment worth billions of dollars.
The Chinese Communist Party routinely flies bombers and fighters close to Taiwan to underline its position that the island must join the mainland by force if necessary.
Tsai mentioned Francis’s call for eradicating the “virus of war” in his speech for the World Day of Peace on January 1.
She used a statement from a speech she gave on October 10 in which she called for “peace and stability” and rejected armed war across the Taiwan Strait.
Armed conflict is not a possibility, Tsai wrote.
The basis for restarting fruitful communication across the Taiwan Strait can only be established by honoring the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom, Tsai wrote in her letter.
After then-U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi stepped up her pressure tactics against the island, China increased them and even launched missiles into the ocean.
As the highest-ranking American official to visit the island in 25 years, the House of Representatives did so in August.
To support Taiwan’s elected government, lawmakers from Britain and other nations have also traveled there.
At the former Pope Benedict’s burial this month, Chen Chien-jen, a former vice president of Taiwan under Tsai, represented the island.