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Taiwan president tells Pope

War with China not option

January 25, 2023 00:00:00

TAIPEI, Jan 24 (Reuters): Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has written to Pope Francis to say that war between Taiwan and China is not an option and only by respecting the Taiwanese people's insistence on sovereignty and freedom can there be healthy ties with Beijing.

The Vatican is Chinese-claimed Taiwan's sole European diplomatic ally, and Taipei has watched with concern as Pope Francis has moved to improve relations with China. The democratically governed island has formal ties with only 14 countries, largely due to Chinese pressure.

In the letter, sent in response to the pope's World Day Of Peace message on Jan 1, Tsai said war in Ukraine has made the world appreciate the value of peace and that maintaining regional security has become an important consensus.

"In my National Day speech last year, I reiterated that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are the foundation for the development of cross-Strait relations and armed confrontation is absolutely not an option," Tsai said, according to a copy of the letter released by her office on Monday.

China staged war games near Taiwan last August, and Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

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