Following growing tensions with Beijing, Tsai Ing-wen said the defenses would be stepped up to “demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves.”
Although the island has governed itself since its separation from the Communist-ruled mainland in 1949, following a long civil war, China claims it as part of its national territory and wants reunification.
Speaking during the National Day celebrations on Sunday, Ms. Tsai said, “We will do our utmost to prevent the status quo from being unilaterally changed.
“The path that China has mapped out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people. “
There was global concern after China sends record number of fighter jets to international airspace near Taiwan.
Facing apparent threats, Taiwan has stepped up unofficial ties with Japan, Australia and the United States, amid warnings China may be capable of a ‘large-scale’ invasion by 2025.
After Ms. Tsai’s speech at the National Day in Taipei, a range of weapons were on display, including missile launchers, armored vehicles, fighter jets and helicopters.
Ms. Tsai said her country “would not act recklessly”, but added, “There should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will give in to the pressure.”
She also reiterated an offer to speak to China on a parity basis.
Beijing, however, said Ms. Tsai’s speech had “prompted confrontation” and insisted the two countries must be “reunified”.
Waiting nine hours to respond to his comments, China said, “This speech advocated Taiwan’s independence, incited confrontation, cut history and distorted the facts.
“The provocation to independence by the authorities of the Progressive Democratic Party (Tsai’s ruling party) is the source of tensions and turbulence in the relations between the two shores and the greatest threat to peace and stability through the Taiwan Strait. “
Chinese leader Xi Jinping said on Saturday that reunification with Taiwan “must be achieved”, adding that it could be done peacefully.
But polls show that Taiwanese are overwhelmingly in favor of the status quo.