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Taiwan President hits out at China for intimidation, pressure and trade obstructions

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen celebrates the National Day (Photo: @iingwen/Twitter)

President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan has said that China’s actions have led to rising tensions in Taiwan Strait and the region. Speaking on the country’s “National Day,” Tsai said that military confrontation is “absolutely not an option” as she urged China to respect Taiwan’s sovereignty.

In her address, President Tsai said: “It is regrettable that in recent years the Beijing authorities’ escalation of their military intimidation, diplomatic pressure, trade obstructions, and attempts to erase the sovereignty of the ROC have threatened the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region”.

Taiwan, which lies barely 180 km to China’s east across the Taiwan Strait, is standing up to frequent acts of Chinese military assertion in its air space and territorial waters. The violations have increased since US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in early August. Beijing even carried out naval exercises around the island and is sending its military planes almost daily into Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).

Taiwanese media reported that in a warning to China, President Tsai said: “The Beijing authorities should not make any misjudgment on account of Taiwan’s vigorous democratic system,” nor should they attempt to “divide Taiwanese society by exploiting the fierce competition between our political parties”.

In order to harmonise relations with Beijing, she even urged China to resume cross-border people-to-people exchanges with reduction in the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The communist neighbour greatly reduced visits between people of the two nations after Tsai assumed office through democratic elections in 2016, only to extend the curbs under the guise of the pandemic spread.

The Taiwanese President also stressed that after the people from mainland China relocated to Taiwan, the people have formed a strong sense of identity as they have lived and grown together. She urged China to respect the values that the Taiwanese people have built.

The Taiwanese people have formed a distinct identity through their liberal and democratic principles as opposed to communist rule in China.

Tsai reiterated that the threat of an invasion of Taiwan from China is real and the island will defend its democracy stoutly. “We are ramping up the mass production of precision missiles and high-performance naval vessels,” she said, adding: “In addition, we are working to acquire various small, highly mobile precision weapons that will help us develop comprehensive asymmetric warfare capabilities…”.

Taiwan, like other countries in the region, is revamping its defences as well as procuring weapons from the US to ward off China. The island nation is also training its civilians in civil defence in case China actually attacks it.

Also read: Whither Taiwan Crisis: Will China go for an invasion?