Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen assured expatriates from the island on a high-profile stopover in Hawaii this week that she would never bow to accept Beijing’s “One country, two systems” framework as long as she remains in power.
Tsai made an overnight transit stop in the US state on Tuesday and Wednesday on her return leg of an eight-day state tour to Palau, Nauru and the Marshall Islands. She was greeted at the airport by Hawaii Governor David Ige.
The president told a packed auditorium in Honolulu that her government would never sign on to Xi Jinping’s directive as the Chinese leader sought to replicate a system currently in place in Hong Kong and Macau – and apply it to the self-governing Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province.
Her audience included American Institute in Taiwan chairman James Moriarty, former AIT chairman Raymond Burghardt, Hawaii House of Representatives Speaker Scott Saiki, Hawaii Senate majority leader Kalani English and others, according to the Central News Agency.
She said the US had confidence in Taiwan as a reliable partner in the Indo-Pacific region who would never capitulate to Beijing.
Tsai addressed a panel discussion via video conference hosted by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. She reportedly cited the “wistful Hong Kong lesson” in her latest rebuke to Xi’s overtures, stressing that Hong Kong’s “deeply concerning” situation showed that “democracy is inherently incompatible with the Chinese regime”.
Tsai warned that Taiwanese people and the international community should heed lessons from what has happened in Hong Kong, where Beijing has tightened its grip to curtail freedoms and muzzle dissent, including banning a secessionist party and disqualifying popularly elected opposition lawmakers.
“Hong Kong [after the 1997 transfer of sovereignty from London to Beijing] is a good case study for Taiwan,” Tsai said.
Tsai also noted that Beijing’s subjugation justified the island’s boost in military spending.
Taiwan has just confirmed its purchase of over 60 F-16 fighter jets in the series’ latest configuration from Lockheed Martin, to respond to the People’s Liberation Army’s stepped-up circumnavigation missions since 2017 in which Chinese fighters, bombers and reconnaissance planes fly through the island’s airspace on a weekly basis.
While in Hawaii, Tsai toured the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and the Hawaii National Guard’s disaster prevention center. Hawaii Adjutant General Arthur Logan, the de facto commander of Hawaii’s military forces and militia, accompanied Tsai during her stopover.
Tsai also transited through Los Angeles and Houston last year to met US lawmakers and local officials and attended seminars and banquets, during a trip to countries in Central America and the Caribbean to shore up ties amid Beijing’s poaching of its dwindling allies.
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