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Taiwan's president says open to working with China on 'peace'

The president of Taiwan said on Sunday that he remains willing to collaborate with China in order to achieve "mutual understanding and reconciliation". This statement comes after recent military exercises carried out by Beijing near the autonomous island, in response to the president's inauguration speech.

Published May 26,2024

Taiwan's president said Sunday he was still open to working with China on building "mutual understanding and reconciliation", days after Beijing launched military drills around the self-ruled island in response to his inauguration speech.

President Lai Ching-te was sworn into office on Monday, and China -- which claims democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and regards Lai as a "dangerous separatist" -- launched military games around the island three days later.

Fighter jets, naval vessels and coast guard ships encircled Taiwan until Friday night, which Chinese military analysts said was to practice seizing it.

On Sunday, Lai said his May 20 inaugural speech highlighted that "peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is a necessary element for global security and prosperity".

"I also called on China to jointly shoulder the important responsibility of regional stability with Taiwan," he said during an event with his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in southern Tainan.

"I also look forward to enhancing mutual understanding and reconciliation through exchanges and cooperation with China... and moving towards a position of peace and common prosperity."

He added that "any country making waves in the Taiwan Strait and affecting regional stability will not be accepted by the international community".

Lai made overtures to Beijing before his inauguration to resume communications -- severed since 2016 after former president Tsai Ing-wen took office.

Like Lai, Tsai is also part of the DPP, which holds a stance of defending Taiwan's sovereignty.

In response, Beijing has upped military and political pressures on Taiwan, and its naval vessels, drones and warplanes maintain a near-daily presence around the island.

On Sunday, two days after the drills ended, Taiwan's defence ministry reported that seven Chinese aircraft, 14 naval vessels and four coast guard ships were "operating around" the island in a 24-hour period ending at 06:00 am (2200 GMT Saturday).