Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday called for the island’s defenses to be strengthened to show that “no one can force Taiwan to follow the path that China has chosen” to a territory whose sovereignty is claimed by Beijing.
In her speech on National Republic Day of China, the official name of Taiwan, the island leader added that Beijing “offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan nor sovereignty for its 23 million people” in the view of the Chinese authorities for what they call “reunification”.
Tsai’s message comes just a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping assured that China “can and will succeed” in reunification with Taiwan, this time setting aside the threat of doing so by force.
On the other hand, the Chinese leader spoke of the “basic principle of ‘peaceful reunification” – and offering integration into the People’s Republic under ‘one country, two systems which is applied in Macau or Hong Kong and which guarantees a certain degree of autonomy.
This offer appears to remain unattractive to Taiwanese authorities, with Tsai precisely pointing out Beijing’s increasingly evident control over Hong Kong in response to the 2019 protests and the latest political changes.
“After taking full control of Hong Kong and throwing themselves at the pro-democracy activists, the Beijing authorities have also strayed from the path of political and economic development that began … decades ago,” she said.
Tsai made it clear this Sunday, referring to the growing tension with Beijing, that “there should by no means be any impression that the Taiwanese will cave in to pressure”.
She also called for Taiwan’s future to be “decided in accordance with the will of the Taiwanese people” after speaking of a renewed commitment to democracy and freedom or resistance to annexation or invasion attempts.
On relations with Beijing – which, according to Taiwan’s Defense Minister, is going through “their worst moment in 40 years” – Tsai said there had been no change in Taiwan’s position: “We claim to maintain the ‘status quo’, we will do our best to ensure that it is not unilaterally changed”.
“To resolve differences (with China), both sides need to enter into a dialogue based on equality,” said the policy, which has been in office since 2016.
The island’s president assured that “more and more democratic friends are willing to defend” Taiwan, highlighting the progress in relations with Japan, the US, and the European Union.
“In Washington, Tokyo, Canberra, and Brussels, Taiwan is no longer on the sidelines. (…) Taiwan is no longer seen as the ‘orphan of Asia’ but as an island of resilience that can face challenges with courage.” emphasized Tsai.
However, he acknowledged, Taiwan’s success – a leader in key industries such as semiconductors and one of the territories that best controlled the pandemic – also has other consequences: “The more we achieve, the more pressure we face from China. the privilege of letting our guard down.”
The island has been autonomously governed since 1949 when the nationalist forces of the Kuomintang took refuge there after being defeated by the communist troops who founded the People’s Republic of China on the mainland.
Beijing considers Taiwan part of China, to be reunited, if necessary, by force.
Source: with Agencies