Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen vowed on Wednesday to enhance national security, warning her government will not submit to China’s suppression amid growing military threats.
She called on Beijing not to be a “source of conflict” and said Taiwan would increase its defence budget annually, while further developing its domestic defence industries.
Using a National Day speech to reinforce Taiwan’s self-rule, Tsai said the island would use all methods to prevent infiltration by other countries.
“At this time, China’s intimidation and diplomatic pressure not only hurt relations between both sides, but seriously challenges the peaceful stability in the Taiwan Strait,” she said in Taipei.
Tsai said China’s increased pressure on Taiwan had challenged the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, but Taiwan will not recklessly provoke Beijing.
‘Expansion of influence’
China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, has recently increased pressure on Taipei. The island this year lost three allies who switched diplomatic allegiance to Beijing, and saw its giant neighbour send bombers and fighter jets for encirclement drills around Taiwan.
“As the entire world is dealing with the expansion of Chinese influence, the government that I am leading will show the world Taiwan’s strength and resilience. The best way to defend Taiwan is to make it indispensable and irreplaceable to the world,” she said.
“So once again, I am calling on the authorities in Beijing – as a responsible major power – to play a positive role in the region and the world, instead of being a source of conflict.”
Tsai’s remarks came weeks in advance of island-wide local elections in late November seen as a bellwether for her ruling party’s performance in presidential elections due in 2020.
China and Taiwan separated during a civil war in 1949 and Beijing considers the island a part of its territory – to be taken control of by force if necessary.