Taiwan will not succumb to Beijing’s pressure and defend its democratic life, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Sunday, after Chinese warplanes infiltrated its air defenses.
Self-ruled Taiwan’s 23 million people live under constant threat of invasion by China, which views the island as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize it by force if necessary.
“The more we achieve, the more pressure we face from China,” Tsai said in a speech on Taiwan’s National Day.
He described Taiwan as “standing on the first line of defense of democracy”.
“We look forward to easing relations (with Beijing) and will not act in haste, but there should be no illusion that the Taiwanese people will succumb to pressure,” he said.
The two sides have been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
Tensions reached their highest level in decades under Chinese President Xi Jinping, who broke official communication with Taipei after Tsai’s election five years ago and increased economic, diplomatic and military pressure.
Another flare-up has erupted in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) with a significant increase in flights by Chinese fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers.
Beijing sent about 150 flights in the days surrounding its National Day of China on 1 October – a record number.
Xi has made Taiwan a prime target of his leadership.
On Saturday, he declared in a speech that “the complete integration of our country will be and can be realized”.
He said he favored a “peaceful reunification”, but Xi’s words came after months of mounting military threats, including a recent increase in air infiltration.
A record 380 sorties took place last year. There have already been over 600 this year.
ADIZ is not the same as Taiwan’s territorial airspace. It covers a very large area that overlaps with part of China’s own air defense detection area and even includes some of the mainland.
Tsai, who won two elections, hates Beijing because she regards Taiwan as an “already independent” country and not part of “one China”.
But it has also made no move to declare formal independence, something Beijing has long warned would be a “red line” that would trigger an invasion.
It has also made talks with Beijing which have been turned down.
During Sunday’s speech, Tsai reiterated her call for Beijing to “engage in dialogue on the basis of equality” and said she supports maintaining the current status quo between the two neighbours.
But he warned that what happens to Taiwan will have huge regional and global implications.
“Every action we take will affect the future direction of our world, and the future direction of our world will likewise affect the future of Taiwan,” she said.
(This story has not been edited by NB staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)