Claimed by China as its own territory, Taiwan is under increasing military and political pressure to accept Beijing’s rule, including repeated Chinese Air Force missions to the Taiwan Air Defense Identification Zone, which is causing international concern. Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday pledged to achieve “peaceful reunification” with Taiwan and did not directly mention the use of force. Still, he got an angry reaction from Taipei, who said that only the Taiwanese people can decide their future.
Addressing a national day rally, Tsai said she hoped for an easing of tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and reiterated that Taiwan “would not act recklessly.”
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“But we absolutely must not be under any illusions that the Taiwanese people will give in to the pressure,” she said in the speech to the presidential office in central Taipei.
“We will continue to strengthen our national defense and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves to ensure that no one can force Taiwan to follow the path that China has laid out for us,” Tsai added.
“This is because the path China has mapped out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people. “
‘Complex and fluid’ situation
Tsai reiterated an offer to speak to China on a parity basis. Beijing has refused to deal with her, calling her a separatist who refuses to recognize that Taiwan is part of “one China”.
Taiwan’s goodwill will not change and will do everything possible to prevent the status quo with China from being unilaterally changed, she said.
Tsai warned that the situation in Taiwan is “more complex and fluid than at any time over the past 72 years,” and that China’s routine military presence in the Taiwan air defense zone has seriously affected the national security and aviation safety.
It oversees a military modernization program to strengthen its defenses and deterrence, including building its own submarines.
The armed forces played a major role in the National Day parade that Tsai oversaw, with fighter jets roaring in the sky above the presidential office and truck-mounted missile launchers, among other weapons, passing by. the scene where she was sitting.
Taiwan is at the forefront of defending democracy, Tsai said.
“The more results we get, the more pressure we are under. I would therefore like to remind all my fellow citizens that we do not have the privilege of letting our guard down. “