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Peace deal must ensure Taiwan's sovereignty, democracy: Tsai

TAIPEI (Kyodo) -- Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Wednesday that Taiwan will not strike a peace deal with mainland China that would undermine the island's sovereignty or democracy, nor will it negotiate under threat or pressure.

"Taiwanese society will not accept any political agreement with China if it undermines Taiwan's national sovereignty or its democracy," Tsai told a press conference, directly addressing the issue for the first time since taking office in May 2016.

She also said that cross-strait negotiations cannot take place on equal basis so long as China continues to threaten to take Taiwan by force and pushes it to accept the "one country, two systems" model implemented in Hong Kong.

"The future of Taiwan is up to us to decide," the president said, adding that it has already chosen to pursue freedom, democracy, security and prosperity.

Many members of the main opposition Nationalist Party (KMT) seeking party nomination for next year's presidential elections have been promoting a peace agreement with China to formally end hostility.

China and Taiwan are still technically at war after KMT troops led by Chiang Kai-shek lost a civil war on the mainland to the Communist forces under Mao Zedong in 1949.

Since then, Taiwan has been governed separately from the mainland, with Beijing considering it a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Tsai also said Wednesday that Taiwan has always been a contributor to peace and stability in the region, while China is the source of regional threat given its military intention and political ambition to take Taiwan by force.

Tsai, who has seen her popularity improve after she talks tough on China, confirmed in an interview with CNN on Tuesday that she is seeking reelection.

She said she accepted the interview because she wanted to tell the international community that Taiwan does not desire the "one country, two systems" model.

As president, Tsai said she is duty bound to protect Taiwan and its people, their children and many more generations and ensure that they enjoy free will in choosing their future.

Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this year called anew for unification, specifically urging both sides to explore a Taiwanese version of "one country, two systems."

He also pledged that China would respect the island's legal freedoms, while adding that China reserves the right to the use of force to prevent Taiwan independence.

Tsai, of the independence-minded Democratic Progressive Party, has rejected Xi's terms for political negotiations, saying Taiwan will never engage in any political consultation under such terms.

She has also opposed the "one country, two systems" model on the grounds that China's political system is not democratic enough, its record on human rights is bad, and it has never abandoned the threat to take Taiwan by force.

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