Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen extended an olive branch to Beijing as she vowed to offer assistance amid a massive surge in Covid cases in China.
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“As long as there is a need, we are willing to provide necessary assistance based on humanitarian concerns,” Tsai Ing-wen said in her New Year’s speech adding that she hoped Taiwanese aid could “help more people out of the pandemic and have a healthy and safe New Year”.
China dropped its strict ‘zero-Covid’ policy, three years after the coronavirus first emerged in the city of Wuhan, and is facing a massive spike in cases. Chinese hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients, crematoriums have been overloaded and pharmacies have run out of fever medications.
In his televised New Year speech, Chinese president Xi Jinping said the “light of hope is right in front of us” as epidemic prevention and control entered “a new phase”.
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In a separate speech, Xi Jinping said that Beijing “resolutely fought against attempts by separatists to seek ‘Taiwan independence’ and intervention of external forces in this regard” as relations between Taiwan and China continue to deteriorate.
Tsai Ing-wen said Chinese military activities around Taiwan were “unhelpful” for maintaining relations between the two.
“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 shared task for Taiwan and China in 2023 was to “restore post-pandemic healthy and sustainable exchanges between the people on the two sides” of the Taiwan Strait, she further said.
“We also have a shared duty to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region,” Tsai Ing-wen added.