Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen took issue with China's military activities around Taiwan over the past year in her New Year's address on Friday, saying both sides should engage in "meaningful dialogue" to manage their differences.

Tsai said China's frequent maritime and air activities in the vicinity of the self-ruled island that Beijing considers a renegade Chinese province have not only undermined relations across the Taiwan Strait, but they threaten the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen. (Kyodo)

"I want to reaffirm that in dealing with cross-strait relations, we will uphold our principles and not act rashly," Tsai said.

"We are willing to facilitate meaningful dialogue under the principles of parity and dignity as long as the Beijing authorities sincerely want to resolve differences and improve cross-strait relations," she said.

The president said that when the COVID-19 pandemic is under control, she expects people-to-people exchanges with mainland China to gradually resume "to improve mutual understanding and reduce misunderstandings."

While touching on trade and other issues, Tsai sought the public's understanding of her decision last year to relax restrictions on the import of U.S. beef and pork, over which there have been protests.

She said as Taiwan relies heavily on trade, "there was no way to avoid" this issue that was left pending by three successive administrations.

Among the other challenges ahead for the Tsai administration is a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Japan insists it be lifted.

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