TAIPEI – Taiwan’s close allies Paraguay and Guatemala marked the Asian country’s national day on Thursday as President Tsai Ing-wen rejected China’s One Country Two Systems policy.
“Today is the 108th National Day of the Republic of China. I would like to thank all our friends from around the world who have come to commemorate this day with us,” President Tsai said during her Nation of Resilience, Forward into the World speech on Thursday.
Taiwan, which is officially known as the Republic of China, is an island-state off the south-east coast of China.
Both Beijing and Taipei have been firm in their positions in an ongoing diplomatic stand-off regarding Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Chinese authorities see the island as a province while Taiwan, a territory that elects its representatives democratically, sees itself as an independent country although political leaders have different views on the island’s status.
Guatemalan Vice President Jafeth Cabrera Franco and his Paraguayan counterpart Hugo Velazquez were at the ceremony known as Double Ten Day being the tenth day of the tenth month.
During the celebrations, Tsai rejected the One Country Two Systems principle Beijing promotes to exercise its sovereignty over the island.
“The world is still changing fast, and the changes are even more dramatic. The US-China trade dispute continues. And not far from Taiwan, Hong Kong is on the verge of chaos due to the failure of ‘one country, two systems’,” the president said.
“Nevertheless, China is still threatening to impose its ‘one country, two systems model for Taiwan.’ Their diplomatic offensives and military coercion pose a serious challenge to regional stability and peace,” Tsai, who will run for re-election in 2020, said.
“Looking to the future, there are many challenges awaiting us that we must overcome,” Tsai said.
“We are witnessing China’s rise and expansion, as they challenge free, democratic values and the global order through a combination of authoritarianism, nationalism, and economic might,” the president said.
“As the strategic forefront of the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan has become the first line of defense for democratic values,” she continued.
Velazquez – who visited Taiwan in November 2014 and September 2015 – took advantage of his trip to visit a tea promotion center in the north of the island and an art museum in the south.
Cabrera Franco toured the National Palace Museum, the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper and the world-renowned Kavalan whiskey distillery in the northeastern Taiwanese city of Yilan.
Representatives from countries such as the Marshall Islands and Swaziland also attended the celebrations.
Since 2016, several former allies of Taiwan have chosen to break their ties with the island in favor of China.
These include Panama, Dominican Republic and El Salvador and, more recently, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati.