Despite stating that Chinese military activity near the island were detrimental to peace and stability, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday promised to give China the “necessary support” it needs to deal with an increase in COVID-19 instances.
According to some international health experts, COVID-19 is growing mainly unchecked and potentially infecting millions of people every day because China abruptly changed its policy last month and started dismantling the world’s tightest pandemic regime of lockdowns and intensive testing.
In her customary statement for the new year, Tsai noted that everyone has noticed an increase in incidents in China, which sees Taiwan as its own territory and has increased military pressure to assert those claims.
Without going into further detail, she stated, “As long as there is a need, based on the position of humanitarian care, we are willing to provide the required assistance to enable more people get out of the epidemic and have a healthy and safe new year.”
China and Taiwan have frequently argued over the methods they each use to stop the spread of COVID.
Following an increase in domestic cases last year, China had criticized Taiwan for its inefficient management of the pandemic. Taiwan, however, accused China of lacking transparency and of attempting to obstruct the supply of vaccines to Taiwan, both of which Beijing has denied.
Tsai repeated her appeal for communication with China, stating that using force to settle disputes was not an option.
In his New Year’s address on Saturday night, Chinese President Xi Jinping just briefly mentioned Taiwan, saying that people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait “are members of one and the same family,” but he made no mention of efforts to annex the island.
Tsai responded to questioning from the media by saying she had taken note of Xi’s “gentler” statements.
She continued, “But I want to remind people that the People’s Liberation Army’s military operations close to Taiwan are in no way beneficial to cross-strait relations or to regional peace and stability.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry announced shortly after Tsai’s speech that 12 Chinese military aircraft had flown across the Taiwan Strait’s median line in the preceding 24 hours, which had traditionally served as an unofficial delineation between the two sides.
Following Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei in August, China held war simulations close to the island, and these military exercises have since continued.
Tsai has consistently stated that she wants peace and dialogue with China, but that only the 23 million people of Taiwan have the power to determine their future and that Taiwan will defend itself if attacked. China has refused to communicate with Tsai because it sees her as a separatist.