The Taiwanese will never abandon our fundamental position and commitments regarding freedom, sovereignty and democracy.

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This spring will mark the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, which helps maintain peace, security and stability in Asia and promotes the foreign policy of the United States.

The act, enacted April 10, 1979 by the United States Congress, authorizes the continuation of commercial, cultural and other relations between the people of the United States and the people of Taiwan. However, in the face of recent aggressive signals from China, 2019 also marks a year to strengthen ties with the United States and the international community to protect democracy and to safeguard peace and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific Region.

On Jan. 2, the 40th anniversary of the so-called “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized that the unification of China and Taiwan is “the great trend of history” and an important part of Xi’s “China Dream of national rejuvenation.” According to Xi, Taiwan’s status is not up for any kind of negotiation. Xi reiterated the “one country, two systems” model implemented in Hong Kong as the future for Taiwan. While calling for peaceful unification, Xi also warned that China reserved the option of using “force” and all necessary means to serve that end.

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Undoubtedly, the vast majority of Taiwanese overwhelmingly oppose the “one country, two systems” as outlined by Xi in his speech. Taiwan, like many other members of the international community, is a democratic nation. The Taiwanese strongly uphold a “democratic and peaceful manner” to solve cross-strait differences, even after Taiwan has suffered many forms of suppression from an authoritarian China.

Examples include China’s attempts to undermine Taiwan’s standing in the international community by demanding hospitality company Marriott International, apparel retailer ZARA and 36 international airlines (including United Airlines, Delta Airline and American Airlines) rename Taiwan as “Taiwan, Province of China,” and forcefully negotiating deals where other countries sever diplomatic ties to Taiwan in return for favors from China.

Since Xi Jinping’s rise to power, six countries that previously had diplomatic relations with Taiwan have canceled those relations. Additional examples are military threats, like circling Taiwan with military aircraft and naval vessels, and even using disinformation to interfere in Taiwan’s democratic elections.

The Taiwanese will never abandon our fundamental position and commitments regarding freedom, sovereignty and democracy. China must face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and not deny the democratic system that the people of Taiwan have established. Cross-strait differences can only be resolved peacefully on the basis of equality instead of using suppression and intimidation to get the Taiwanese to submit.

After squeezing out any opposition candidates in Hong Kong who don’t toe the Beijing political line, China is now trying to use the same tactics in Taiwan also through the so-called “one country, two systems” model. China is also eager to beef up its armed forces and escalate tension with the United States over hacking and economic issues. China’s aggressive movements are not only threatening regional stability and prosperity, but also oppose the interests of the United States. Taiwan and the United States should develop a stronger relationship to counter China to protect core democratic values which are cherished by the international community.