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Taiwan says no compromise on democracy after opposition’s China peace overture

TAIPEI (Reuters) — Taiwan will not accept any deal that destroys its sovereignty and democracy, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday after the island’s opposition KMT party said it could sign a peace deal with China if it wins a presidential election next year.

China claims self-ruled and proudly democratic Taiwan as its own and has vowed to bring the island, which it regards as sacred territory, under Beijing’s control, by force if necessary.

Click to enlarge
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen visits the 6th Army Command, ahead of the Lunar New Year, in Taoyuan, Taiwan on Jan. 25, 2019.  REUTERS

While China has not broached the idea of a peace deal in years, the chairman of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang or KMT, Wu Den-yih, said last week the party could sign a peace deal with China if it won the hotly contested election.

“Taiwan society will not accept any treaty that harms Taiwan’s national sovereignty and democracy,” Tsai told reporters in Taipei. She said there won’t be real peace unless China rules out using force to bring Taiwan under its control.

Beijing was expected to make fresh overtures to the KMT ahead of the elections, security sources in Taiwan’s government familiar with the matter told Reuters, a move they said could isolate Tsai’s government and sway the election results.

Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party suffered stinging losses to the KMT in mayoral and local elections in November.

Tsai, who says she wants to maintain the status quo, has said China must use peaceful means to resolve its differences with Taiwan and respect Taipei’s democratic values.

Beijing has regularly sent military aircraft and ships to circle the island on drills in the past few years and has heaped pressure on Taiwan internationally, including whittling down its few remaining diplomatic allies.

Tsai has repeatedly called for international support to defend Taiwan’s democracy and way of life in the face of China’s renewed threats.