TAIPEI (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a recent interview with CNN that whether she will accept an invitation to address the U.S. Congress will depend on three major considerations.
While Taiwan has warmer ties with the United States after President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, Tsai said in the interview that it was not a simple decision to make on whether to accept an invitation and that it would require “comprehensive consideration.”
“From our perspective, would we accept such an invitation if it were extended? We would have to look at it from several angles,” Tsai in the interview with CNN correspondent Matt Rivers on Feb. 18.
Tsai laid out three major considerations: “Would delivering an address in Washington, D.C. be in the interests of Taiwan, benefit Taiwan-U.S. relations, and serve peace and stability in the region?”
A group of U.S. senators on Feb. 7 jointly wrote a letter to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, calling on her to invite Tsai to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. The letter was signed by Cory Gardner, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, John Cornyn, and Ted Cruz.
Some U.S. politicians have expressed opposition to the proposal, with former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Richard Bush warning that it was flawed since it would not be conducive to U.S. relations with China and would hurt Taiwan.
Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Susan Shirk even said the proposal was a “huge mistake,” adding it would be highly irresponsible for Trump to use Taiwan as leverage in dealing with China.
Also in the interview, Tsai, who came to power in May 2016 as Taiwan’s first female president, said she intended to seek reelection in 2020, although the ruling Democratic Progressive Party suffered a crushing defeat in the nine-in-one local government elections in November, seen by many as a referendum on her leadership and her administration’s performance.
According to CNN, Tsai, throughout the interview, painted the picture that Taiwan was facing down the growing might of China. The U.S. news network said Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) was unlikely to want to see a second term for Tsai, who “was carried into office on a swell of anti-Beijing sentiment following attempts by Kuomintang party to move closer to China.”
In January, Xi called for the peaceful reunification of China and Taiwan, but he declined to discount the use of force to reunify with Taiwan.
“Chairman Xi Jinping’s New Year’s address alerted Taiwan to the fact that its independent existence could be changed because Xi has started to talk about unification and the ‘one country, two systems’ concept,” Tsai told CNN.
When asked, “if China invaded tomorrow, would you count on the U.S. military to be there?” Tsai emphasized that Taiwan has been strengthening its military capability.
“Our defenses are well prepared for an attack at any time — for any situation where we would need to fend China off for 24 hours,” Tsai said.
“So we would hope that after withstanding any first wave of attacks ourselves, other countries throughout the world would stand up in unison and put strong pressure upon China in response.”
By Yu Kai-hsiang, Lin Shu-yuan and Frances Huang