He also reaffirmed Taiwan’s role as a responsible stakeholder in the region, while vowing to avert war with mainland China through offensive and defensive means and negotiations.
“Taiwan’s most important priority should be to strengthen its national defence and deter the use of force by mainland China,” Hou wrote.
Hou, 65, was officially nominated by the Kuomintang in July to run for the island’s top post. He worked in the police department for over 30 years before becoming New Taipei City’s mayor in 2018.
In the article “Taiwan’s Path Between Extremes”, Hou called for proactive pragmatism and proposed the “three Ds” strategy – deterrence, dialogue and de-escalation – to maintain stability in the strait and broader Indo-Pacific region.
Hou said he believed that peace would be maintained through building Taiwan’s strength and by increasing dialogue with Beijing.
Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan and has promised to control it, even if that means using force.
Hou, citing the huge disparity between the military strength of Taipei, Taiwan, and Beijing, said that the island needed to use the available technologies and weapons in a creative way, as well as develop innovative, asymmetrical capabilities, so Beijing would be hesitant about taking any action.
He endorsed the “1992 consensus” in line with the Constitution of the Republic of China. He also said he was opposed to Beijing’s unification plan under “one country, two systems” and demands for Taiwan’s independence.
There is a consensus between the Communist Party and the former ruling KMT that there is one China, but they disagree on what this means.
President Tsai Ing-wen, from Taiwan’s independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, has rejected the consensus, which Beijing demands as a precondition for cross-strait dialogue.
Hou, in his article, asserted that Taiwan is a sovereign nation. He stressed that he will continue to communicate with the other side of the Strait so as to avoid any military miscalculations.
“In international intergovernmental organisations such as the Asia-Pacic Economic Cooperation [forum]Taiwan is an equal member of the United Nations and its specialised agencies. In the United Nations and its specialised agencies, the international community also expects meaningful participation from Taiwan,” he said.
“Continued interactions between the two sides [of the strait] De-escalating future risks can be achieved by focusing on functional aspects.
“This is what I call principled interactions on the basis of equality, goodwill, and dignity.”
In terms of Taiwan’s relationship with partners, Hou said Taiwan should continue forging close ties with the US and like-minded countries in Asia, and he would not take the US’ security support of Taiwan for granted.
Like most countries, the US – Taiwan’s biggest informal ally – does not support Taiwan as an independent state but is opposed to any unilateral change of the cross-strait status quo by force.
Cross-strait relations is a major issue in the campaign for the island’s presidential election in January.
A poll conducted by the online news outlet Newtalk this month shows that William Lai Ching Te, DPP candidate, is currently leading with 32 percent of respondents choosing him as their favorite candidate. Hou attracted 21 per cent and Taiwan People’s Party candidate Ko Wen-je was on 24 per cent, while 12 per cent chose independent candidate Terry Gou. The remaining did not select a preferred candidate.