Vice President of Taiwan William Lai Ching-te, who is running as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate, rejected a proposed peace plan with China put forth by opposition presidential candidate and Foxconn founder Terry Gou. Lai said the proposal as unviable, citing the “misery” experienced in Tibet, Hong Kong and Macau.
“If peace agreements (with China) were effective, Tibet would not be so miserable,” Lai said while addressing supporters’ groups in Kaohsiung.
The presidential hopeful was referring to the Seventeen Point Agreement, which was signed between China and Tibet in 1951. The agreement included commitments from Beijing, such as a promise to “not alter the existing political system in Tibet.” However, the Dalai Lama who was the political head of Tibet at that time renounced this agreement in 1959, stating it was signed under duress. Furthermore, the Tibet government-in-exile has stated that China has failed to uphold many of the commitments outlined in the agreement.
Lai further expressed his concern that some candidates were willing to pursue peace at the cost of relinquishing sovereignty. He emphasized, “Peace without sovereignty is a false peace. If peace without sovereignty can lead to peace, Hong Kong and Macau would not be so miserable.”
The context surrounding Hong Kong was noted in the speech as well. The United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to China in 1997 under the “one country, two systems” principle, which stipulated that Hong Kong would maintain its economic and administrative systems for 50 years. However, international observers and human rights organizations have accused China of undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy through repressive measures, such as the imposition of the Hong Kong national security law by Beijing in 2020.