BJP MPs praise Taiwan as ‘democratic country’ as President Tsai Ing-wen begins new term

Tsai Ing-wen. File photo: AP  

As Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen was sworn in on Wednesday for a second term, two Members of Parliament from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were among the dignitaries from 41 countries who sent in messages of congratulation that were played at the inaugural ceremony.

Also read: Coronavirus | Taiwan is eager to work with India to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, says Foreign Minister Joseph Wu

A joint message from BJP MPs Meenakshi Lekhi and Rahul Kaswan praised Taiwan as “a democratic country”. “Both India and Taiwan are democratic countries, bonded by shared values of freedom, democracy and respect for human rights. Over the past years, India and Taiwan have enhanced bilateral relations enormously in wide-ranging areas, especially trade, investment and people to people exchanges,” the two lawmakers said in their message.

A separate video message from Ms. Lekhi was also played at the inaugural, in which she wished Ms. Tsai “great success and the continued strengthening of the comprehensive relations between India and Taiwan”.

At Ms. Tsai’s last inauguration in 2016, India at the last minute decided against sending two MPs to attend the event, concerned about the possible fallout on ties with China. This year, the two MPs were among 92 foreign dignitaries from 41 countries, who were virtually present at the event via video messages. The recordings were sent because overseas guests were not invited on account of the ongoing pandemic, Taiwan’s Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

Also read: Taiwan rejects China’s main condition for WHO participation

India was represented at the ceremony by Sohang Sen, the acting director general of the India Taipei Association. India does not have a formal mission in Taipei as it is among 179 of the 194 member states of the United Nations that do not maintain diplomatic ties. Heads of state from all of the 15 countries that maintain ties with Taiwan sent videos except for the Vatican, CNA reported.

In her speech, Ms. Tsai called for Taiwan and China to have dialogue and co-exist, but ruled out any likelihood of a “one country, two systems” framework that China has proposed, along the lines of its administration over Hong Kong, which returned to China in 1997.

“We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo. We stand fast by this principle,” said Ms. Tsai, who also said Taiwan would “play a more active role in the peace, stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region” and “bolster ties with the U.S., Japan, Europe and other like-minded countries”

Also read: Taiwan makes new push for inclusion in World Health Assembly.

Taiwan has been entirely self-ruled since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) favours maintaining the status quo, viewing the “Republic of China” as independent. China, however, claims Taiwan as its “province” and has campaigned to limit Taiwan’s participation in international bodies under the “One China Principle”.

In recent weeks, the U.S. has pushed for Taiwan’s inclusion as an observer to the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has faced questions over its handling of the pandemic. Taiwan was an observer until 2016, but ties with China have worsened since Ms. Tsai’s coming to power.

Several senior U.S. officials and Senators sent messages of congratulation, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the presumptive Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden, Senior Director of the U.S. National Security Council Matthew Pottinger, and Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell. Speaking in Mandarin, Mr. Pottinger said: “The world has much to learn from Taiwan and the U.S. will continue to engage with Taiwan. We will continue to urge other countries and organizations, such as the WHO, to put human lives above politics,” he said.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 12:37:01 PM |

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