By UCA News
(UCA News) — A war between Taiwan and China is not an option and it is more important to develop cross-strait relations, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said in a letter to Pope Francis.
President Tsai sent the letter to the pope on Jan. 23, in response to the pontiff’s message on the 56th World Day of Peace on Jan. 1, according to a press note on the Taiwanese President’s website.
President Tsai stressed bilateral dialogue to bring peace and stability to the region.
“In my 2022 National Day address, I underscored that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are the basis for the development of cross-strait relations,” the letter read.
Tsai stated in her letter that “armed confrontation is absolutely not an option,” underlining Taiwan’s resolve to end the conflict with China through peaceful means.
Tsai also further added that Taiwan’s desire for peace and respect for the people as a nation are key factors in ensuring freedom in the region, referring to her National Day address in October 2022.
“Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom, can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait,” Tsai wrote.
Taiwan has been under constant pressure from China which considers the country a part of its territory and denies the sovereignty that Taiwan claims.
In August, China staged military exercises near Taiwan’s borders raising tension across the strait.
President Tsai, referring to Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti, highlighted Taiwan’s resolve to “partner with like-minded nations to support reconstruction efforts in Ukraine.”
In March 2022, Taiwan donated funds totaling more than US$30 million and distributed around 650 tons of material supplies to assist the millions of Ukrainian refugees displaced by war.
Taiwan has been hailed globally for its highly successful countermeasures against the Covid-19 pandemic. The nation has lent support to other countries with medical equipment and expertise.
“Taiwan contributes its utmost, donating masks and protective equipment, and providing the needy and helpless with material supplies,” the letter read.
Tsai also highlighted the fact that Taiwan has been excluded from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Taiwan’s bid to join the WHO as a member or an observer has been thwarted by China through diplomatic pressure.
In May 2022, WHO rejected a proposal sent by 13 WHO members to allow Taiwan to join as an observer.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry had expressed “deep regret and dissatisfaction” at the decision.
“China’s repeated use of politics to override the public interest of global health security and harm the health and human rights of the Taiwanese people is unacceptable to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the ministry said in a statement in May 2022.
Tsai, in her letter, also highlighted the resolve that Taiwan has the goal of net-zero emissions in 2050 to tackle climate change.
“We will collaborate with the Holy See on numerous environmental projects, which include promoting smart agriculture, solar energy systems, and electric vehicles,” the letter read.
The year 2022 marked the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and the Holy See.
In 2022, Taiwan’s Embassy to the Holy See hosted an art exhibition titled “Friendly Taiwan meets Fratelli tutti,” featuring traditional calligraphy containing excerpts from the Bible and Pope Francis’ encyclicals.
The Embassy also held a conference on “Beautiful Taiwan, the Field of God” in honor of the loving deeds performed by countless clergy during their service in Taiwan.
The Vatican is the only state in Europe that maintains full diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The island nation has formal ties with only 14 countries, largely due to Chinese pressure.
Taiwan has one archdiocese and six dioceses. Catholics make up about one percent of Taiwan’s more than 23 million people.