Taiwan’s leader has announced a peace initiative for creating a "new era" of cordial relations with China as military drills are being held in preparation for possible clashes in the region.
"Upholding peace requires ample goodwill and communication. Based on many years of experience in cross-strait negotiations during my political career, I am convinced that military action cannot resolve problems," Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen wrote in a letter to the Vatican released by her office on Friday.
Beijing considers the self-ruled Taiwan a renegade region.
The Vatican is one of few places which have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.
China has expressed readiness to use military force if Taipei pursues to breach the internationally-approved “One China” policy that recognizes only one China.
"Taiwan and mainland China were once embroiled in a zero-sum conflict that caused tension in the region and anxiety among our peoples. In contrast, today people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait enjoy stable lives and normal exchanges under peaceful separate governance," Tsai said in the letter.
She said the Taipei government wanted to maintain the current peaceful environment, adding however, that her administration would not bow to pressure from Beijing.
Tsai’s comments were seen as a follow-up on US President Donald Trump’s remarks before his inauguration signaling that he may end Washington’s commitment to the “One China” policy which has been the bedrock of Sino-US diplomatic relations for decades.
“I call on cross-strait negotiators to set aside former agreements and engage in positive dialog," Tsai said.
Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party does not agree with the “One China” policy.
Beijing has repeatedly warned that the US abandoning the policy would result in pro-independence aspirations in Taiwan and could result in China ending cooperation with the US in major fields.
In a related development, media reported on Friday that the US and Japan will carry out a tabletop exercise next week to simulate its response in the event of a military clash between China and Taiwan.
The Self-Defense Forces will conduct drills from Monday through Friday with the US military participating as an observer, a Japanese government source told Kyodo News.
The exercises, which do not involve actual troop deployments, assume that the US and Japan are responding to a military conflict, Kyodo said Thursday.
In response to the news of the regional military drills, China's foreign ministry said Japan should not meddle in Beijing's "internal affairs."
"I want to emphasize that the Taiwan issue is an internal affair of China, and we hope that Japan will be very cautious with its words and actions...and not do anything that would undermine regional peace and stability," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing in Beijing on Friday.