Taiwan’s president called for maintaining the political status quo in a candid speech on Sunday, acknowledging mounting pressure from China.
Tsai Ing-wen also strongly rejected Chinese military coercion, at a parade on her National Day home inspired by a rare display of Taiwan’s defense capabilities.
Singers from various indigenous tribes of Taiwan sang to open the ceremony in front of the presidential office building in the center of Taipei, built by the Japanese, who ruled the island as a colony for 500 years until the end of World War II. did.
“We will do our best to prevent the status quo from changing unilaterally,” she said. China claims Taiwan as part of its national territory, although the island is self-governing.
Tsai said, “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 set for us by China.” ” “This is because the path China has taken has neither provided a free and democratic lifestyle for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people.
Surveys favor their current de facto independent state and strongly reject integration with China, which claims as part of its national territory that its control will be brought under military force if necessary. Taiwan has grown into a vibrant democracy, while China remains a deeply authoritarian, sing-party communist state.
Tsai, who rarely directly isolates China in her public speeches, acknowledged that Taiwan has been facing an increasingly tense situation in the form of Chinese military persecution over the past year. Since September last year, China has flown more than 800 fighter jets towards Taiwan.
To counter these tensions, the island has strengthened its informal ties with countries such as Japan, Australia and the US. “But the more we achieve, the more pressure we face from China,” she said.
Following Tsai’s address, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense displayed a range of weapons, including missile launchers and armored vehicles, while fighter jets and helicopters rose overhead.
Tsai said Taiwan wanted to contribute to peaceful development in the region, while the situation in the Indo-Pacific was becoming more tense and complex.
On Saturday, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said reunification with Taiwan “must be realized” and said that peaceful reunification was in the interest of the whole country, including the people of Taiwan.
“No one should underestimate the determination, will and ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Since last Friday, China has sent record-breaking fighter jets towards international airspace near Taiwan.
Following Tsai’s speech, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense showed off a range of its weapons and defense capabilities. First, several assault helicopters took off in the sky. Then, Air Force pilots flew F-16s, indigenous defense fighters and Mirage 2000 formations, leaving white cords in their wake.
They were followed by a group of CM32 tanks, followed by trucks carrying Thunderbolt 2000 missile systems. More missiles followed, such as the domestically manufactured Hsung Fang III, a supersonic missile system, and communications vehicles that helped guide the weapons to their targets.
The parade also featured Olympic athletes from Taiwan, who won medals at the Tokyo Summer Games, as well as public health officials who held a daily press conference about the pandemic, wearing their distinctive neon yellow-edged vests. Had happened.
Tsai called on other legislative parties to put politics aside to reform the island’s constitution, a document created before the then-ruling Nationalist Party lost power in 1947 and fled China before the Communist takeover two years later. .