On Sunday, Taiwan’s president pledged to protect the island from growing pressure from China to reunite after a week of unprecedented tensions with Beijing. Speaking at the island’s National Day celebrations, Taiwan’s rare display of Taiwan’s defenses at the annual parade highlighted Tsai Yingwen’s pledge to counter China’s military threats.
“We will do our best to prevent unilateral changes in the status quo,” said President Tsai.
“We will continue to strengthen our national defenses and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves so that no one can force Taiwan to follow the path that China has paved for us,” the Taiwanese leader added.
China claims Taiwan is part of its national territory, although the island has been under self-government since it split from the communist-ruled mainland in 1949 after a lengthy civil war.
Tsai emphasized the island’s vibrant democracy in contrast to Beijing’s deeply authoritarian one-party communist state.
“The path that China has paved offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people,” Tsai said.
A choir of singers from various indigenous tribes in Taiwan opened the ceremony in front of the presidential administration building in the center of Taipei’s capital.
Polls show that Taiwanese overwhelmingly support their current de facto independent state and categorically reject unification with China, which has promised to take control of the island, if necessary, with military force.
Tsai rarely singles out China in her public speeches, but in this speech she acknowledged the growing tensions that Taiwan faces as the Chinese military persecution intensified in the past year. Since September last year, China has sent fighters towards Taiwan more than 800 times.
Since last Friday, China has sent a record number of fighters into international airspace near Taiwan.
The island has strengthened its informal ties with countries such as Japan, Australia and the United States in the face of these perceived threats.
“But the more we achieve, the stronger the pressure from China,” Tsai said in her speech.
Following the speech, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense displayed a range of weapons, including rocket launchers and armored vehicles, while fighter jets and helicopters took off overhead. These included F-16s, indigenous fighters and Mirage 2000 fighters, which left wide white contrails behind.
The aviation demonstration was followed by a group of CM32 tanks, followed by trucks with missile systems.
Tsai said Taiwan wants to contribute to peaceful regional development, even as the situation in the Indo-Pacific region is becoming “more tense and complex.”
Chinese leader Xi Jinping said Saturday that reunification with Taiwan “must be accomplished,” while “peaceful” reunification is possible.
“No one should underestimate the strong determination, will and ability of the Chinese people to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xi said.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office issued a statement Sunday night in response to Tsai’s remarks that Tsai’s Party, the Democratic Progressive Party, is “the source of unrest and tension between the two sides of the strait and the biggest threat to peace and stability in Taiwan. … The strait. “
The parade on Sunday in Taipei also featured Taiwanese Olympic athletes who won medals at the Tokyo Summer Games, as well as health officials, including those attending the daily pandemic press conferences, wearing distinctive yellow-edged neon vests.
Tsai also called on other legislative parties to abandon politics in order to promote reform of the island’s constitution, a document created by the then ruling Nationalist Party in 1947 before it lost power and left China before the communist takeover two years later. …