No one will force Taiwan to bow to pressure from China, President Tsai Ing-wen assured this Sunday, thus responding to President Xi Jinping’s assertions that complete unification between both sides of the Straits “must and will be achieved.” . The island, said the leader, is willing to defend itself and its future, which “will be decided in accordance with the will of the Taiwanese people.”
Tsai was speaking in a speech during the annual civil and military parade commemorating Taiwan’s national day on October 10, a date that culminated ten days of serious tensions between Beijing and Taipei. Last weekend, Chinese planes flew over the island’s defense space almost 150 times in four days. On Wednesday, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng described the situation between the two sides of the strait as “the bleakest in 40 years.” And on Saturday, Xi promised future unification. “The independence separatism of Taiwan is the greatest obstacle to achieve the reunification of the mother country, and the greatest hidden danger to achieve the rejuvenation of the nation,” stressed the Chinese leader. By “rejuvenation of the nation,” Xi refers to China’s rise and its path to regain prominence on the world stage that Beijing feels is historically rightful.
China considers Taiwan an inalienable part of its territory, the last piece to recover what was lost at the hands of foreign forces during its “century of humiliation” before the proclamation of the People’s Republic in 1949. Although its leaders always emphasize the preference for integration Peaceful, Beijing has always allowed it to resort to violence if the island, which is de facto independent and has a democratic regime, also formally declares itself independent.
“We want a détente in relations, and we will not act recklessly, but let no one believe that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure” from China, said Tsai, who assured that “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. ” And that is, he added, because that path “offers neither a free and democratic lifestyle for Taiwan nor sovereignty for our 23 million people.”
Relations between Beijing and Taipei, warm a decade ago, have deteriorated dramatically since Xi Jiping came to power in 2012 and Tsai’s election to head Taiwan in 2016, revalidated at the polls last year. The Xi government considers that Tsai supports the island’s separatism, although the president declares herself in favor of maintaining the current one the status quo between the two territories and has not taken any steps towards a declaration of independence. According to polls, most Taiwanese also support maintaining it, and only around 5% support integration with mainland China.
Beijing has increased its pressure on the island and since last year it has carried out almost daily air raids over the Taiwanese defense space, the Air Defense Identification Area or ADIZ for its acronym in English. Its vessels frequently carry out maneuvers in the vicinity of the island’s waters. Taiwan, for its part, supported by the United States, ensures that it will defend itself in case of attack and is modernizing its defenses. The Tsai government has just requested a budget item worth about 8.9 billion dollars for the next five years, with which it plans to buy anti-ship systems and missiles of national manufacture.
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In his speech, Tsai reiterated his offer to enter into a dialogue with Beijing on equal terms. And he warned that what happens to the future of the island will have consequences throughout the world. “More and more democratic friends are ready to stand up for” Taipei, he said. After a series of favorable statements to the island, and visits by delegations, “in Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and Brussels, Taiwan is no longer on the sidelines,” he added.
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