Tsai Ying-wen to Pope Francis: Together for non-violence and the status quo across the Taiwan Strait

The Taiwanese president sent a letter to the pope in response to his Message for World Day of Peace centred on non-violence. She heeds the Holy See’s appeal on behalf of women, children, and migrants, and for aid to refugees and earthquake victims. Taiwan is "a beacon for democracy in Asia." With mainland China, she calls for setting "aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue.”


Taipei (AsiaNews) –Pope Francis’s message for the World Day of Peace on ‘Nonviolence: a Style of Politics for Peace’ is "sublime and profound,” says Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen in a letter to the pontiff dated 5 January but made public three days ago.

This is a "noble ideal" also found "in Confucian and Buddhist concepts deeply entrenched in our traditional culture."

With respect to Taiwan-China relations, the president calls for maintaining the "status quo" and the "hard-won stability” after the "tension" and "anxiety" of the past.

Ms Tsai said that she deeply appreciated the papal message, “which calls for disarmament and the abolition of nuclear weapons, as well as solutions to regional conflict, terrorism, migration issues, and environmental destruction.”

Speaking about relations between Taiwan and China, Tsai writes that “today people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait enjoy stable lives and normal exchanges under peaceful separate governance. [. . .] the ROC* government is staunchly committed to maintaining Taiwan's democracy and the status quo of peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Convinced that “military action cannot resolve problems”, she urges “the governing party across the strait, together with the governing party in Taiwan, to set aside the baggage of history and engage in positive dialogue.”

In the wake of the pontiff's proposal of "active non-violence", the Taiwanese leader insists that the ROC wants to serve as “a beacon for democracy in Asia. We hope that the freedoms guaranteed by the ROC Constitution, including the freedom of residence and change of residence, as well as religious and personal freedoms, shall also be enjoyed by people in other parts of the world, so that they too may be free of fear from political and religious repression.”

Responding to Pope Francis’ appeal on behalf of “women, children, migrants, and the socially and economically disadvantaged,” Tsai notes that Taiwan has “put forward five major social safety plans covering community care, social order, housing, food safety, and a sustainable pension system.”

The Holy See’s appeal for humanitarian assistance has seen Taiwan respond to the problems of refugees in Jordan and northern Iraq, the victims of Ebola in West Africa, as well as the victims of earthquakes in Italy, Nepal, Japan and Ecuador.

With respect to the pontiff’s appreciation of the role of women in peace making, the Taiwanese leader says that “As the first female president in the ethnic Chinese world, I aspire to live up to your words as I devote myself to enhancing the wellbeing of the Taiwanese people and creating a new era for cross-strait peace.”

In closing, she says “I sincerely hope that Your Holiness's Message will inspire people worldwide to reflect on the damage violence does to peace. It is my deep belief that your selfless commitment and magnanimous love will lead the way in ending violence and moving humanity toward peace and justice.”

* Republic of China, i.e. Taiwan

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