(Bloomberg) -- Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen told Pope Francis that war with China was “not a option,” reaffirming her desire to avoid a conflict that could drag in the US. 

Tsai used a letter to the pontiff marking World Peace Day to press her case for a peaceful resolution of Taipei’s dispute with Beijing. In the letter, which was released Monday, Tsai expressed her support for the Vatican’s positions on Russia’s war against Ukraine and restated her stance on maintaining stability across the Taiwan Strait. 

“Preserving regional security has become a key consensus shared by national leaders,” Tsai wrote. “Peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are the basis for the development of cross-strait relations,” she said, adding “armed confrontation is absolutely not an option.” 

China reserves the right to use military force to prevent the independence of Taiwan, which the Communist Party claims as its territory, even though it has never controlled the democratically governed island. The Vatican is the only remaining European government to have diplomatic relations with Taiwan instead of Beijing.

“Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy and freedom, can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait,” Tsai said in the letter.

Tensions between the US and China flared in August after then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in the first such trip in a quarter of a century, prompting Beijing to hold massive drills and fire ballistic missiles over the island. Pelosi’s Republican successor, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, is planning to make his own trip to Taiwan in the spring, the political news site Punchbowl News reported Monday.

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