Taiwan leader says island will not bow to China
Taiwan will not bow to pressure by Beijing and will defend its democratic way of life, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Oct. 10, following a spike in incursions by Chinese warplanes into its air defense zone.
Self-governed Taiwan’s 23 million people live under the constant threat of invasion by authoritarian China, which views the island as its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.
“The more we achieve, the greater the pressure we face from China,” Tsai said in a speech marking Taiwan’s National Day, adding: “Nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us.”
She described Taiwan as “standing on democracy’s first line of defense.”
“We hope for an easing of... relations [with Beijing] and will not act rashly, but there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure,” she added.
The two sides have been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.
Tensions have risen to their highest in decades under Chinese President Xi Jinping, who broke off official communication with Taipei following Tsai’s election five years ago and ramped up economic, diplomatic and military pressure.
The latest flare-up has been a surge in flights by Chinese fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ).
Some 150 sorties were made into the zone in the days surrounding China’s own National Day on Oct. 1, a record number.
Xi has made taking Taiwan a key goal of his leadership which he looks set to extend to a third term in 2022. On Oct. 9, he declared in a speech that “the complete reunification of our country will be and can be realized.”
He said he favored “peaceful reunification” but his words come after months of increased military threats, including the recent surge in air incursions as well as heavily publicized military drills simulating an invasion of Taiwan.