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Taiwan presidential frontrunner says dialogue with China still possible

Vice President Lai Ching-te says cooperation would benefit both sides of Taiwan Strait

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Xi Jinping and Lai Ching-te. (Taiwan News, Reuters and CNA collage)

Xi Jinping and Lai Ching-te. (Taiwan News, Reuters and CNA collage)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s presidential frontrunner Lai Ching-te (賴清德) said the window for dialogue with China has not closed.

In an interview published Saturday (Oct. 7), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate and Vice President Lai said any dialogue with China must be on respectful and equal terms. Lai told Japan News he would not reject “exchanges and cooperation” with Beijing and cited infectious diseases and disaster response as common issues that both sides face.

“Cooperating and tackling these issues together would be to the advantage of our citizens,” Lai said. China has rejected invitations to dialogue from Lai’s DPP, a political party that China views as separatist.

Lai said he aims to protect the status quo by following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) approach to cross-strait relations. “It is my duty to maintain the status quo, protect peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, and protect world peace," he said.

Commentators have noted that Lai’s position on sovereignty is essentially the same as Tsai’s. “On sovereignty, relations with China, and Taiwan’s place in the international community, it isn’t different at all,” Academia Sinica researcher Nathan Batto wrote in Sept.

“Lai marches in lockstep with Tsai’s vision,” Batto wrote. “When he talks about these questions, he might use slightly different wordings, but there is no substantive difference.”

Lai added that he considers Taiwan and Japan to be “like a family,” and a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would threaten Japan. “We don’t wish for war and we won’t start one ourselves. But by not fearing war and making preparations during peacetime, this prevents war, and we can have peace," Lai said.