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Tsai says China unlikely to invade Taiwan amid internal struggles

'Perhaps this is not a time for them to consider a major invasion of Taiwan,' Tsai

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President Tsai Ing-wen.

President Tsai Ing-wen. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said that China is unlikely to invade Taiwan in the near term due to internal struggles in an interview with the New York Times.

The DealBook Summit hosted by the New York Times on Wednesday (Nov. 29) aired a pre-recorded interview with Tsai. Andrew Ross Sorkin, founder and contributing editor of the summit, asked Tsai how she assessed the risk of an invasion by China following the meeting between President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) at the recent APEC summit.

Tsai pointed out that Taiwan is indeed facing intensified military coercion, gray zone warfare operations, cyber attacks, and disinformation. Faced with such threats, Tsai said the Taiwanese have remained calm, and some commentators have even pointed out that, "We may be too calm."

The president went on to say that the Taiwanese continue to be "clear-eyed" about the situation in the strait, and, "we continue to make our utmost efforts to strengthen our defense capabilities and societal resilience."

Sorkin observed that Xi has reiterated his desire to annex Taiwan, but that he wants to do so through peaceful means and asked Tsai how this would take place. Tsai said that China's leadership is "overwhelmed by its internal challenges" and she believes that "perhaps this is not a time for them to consider a major invasion of Taiwan."

Sorkin then asked whether Tsai was referring to economic challenges. The president replied that she was referring to China's internal economic, financial, and political challenges, and stressed that "the international community has made it loud and clear that war is not an option," and that peace and stability are in the interests of all parties.

He noted that although Taiwan's chip manufacturing is currently vital to the world, the Biden administration considers relocating some chip production to the U.S. to be a priority. He then asked how Tsai views the long-term impact of this move on the relationship and its value between the U.S. and Taiwan.

Tsai mentioned that she believes that U.S. measures related to Taiwan’s chip manufacturing capabilities are advantageous to Taiwan at this time. Tsai said, "We are helping our allies and friends" in building supply chain resilience.

"But at the same time, we would be able to use resources available in the United States, especially human resources and talent," added Tsai. When asked whether she is concerned that Taiwan's value will diminish if chip manufacturing is moved to the U.S., Tsai said that clusters Taiwan has for semiconductor manufacturing cannot be "rebuilt or replaced elsewhere."