Taiwan would not “bow to pressure” from Beijing for a “reunification,” the island nation’s president President Tsai Ing-wen said.
Speaking at a rally celebrating Taiwan’s National Day, Tsai said the island nation is “willing to do its part to contribute to the peaceful development of the region” but would not compromise its independence.
“We hope for an easing of cross-strait relations and will not act rashly, but there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure,” she said.
Sunday’s celebration also included a parade of Taiwan’s defense capabilities showcasing a range of weaponry such as armored vehicles, fighter jets and helicopters.
“We will continue to bolster our national defense and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves in order to ensure that nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us,” said Tsai.
The comments came after Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday said “reunification” with Taiwan “must be fulfilled” in a “peaceful manner” while delivering a speech marking the 110th anniversary of the revolution that overthrew China’s last imperial dynasty.
“No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s staunch determination, firm will, and strong ability to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Xi said.
Ma Xiaoguag, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Tsai’s speech incited confrontation and distorted facts.
“Taiwan is part of China. Although the two sides of the strait have not yet been completely reunified since 1949, the fact that the mainland and Taiwan belong to the same China has never changed and cannot be changed,” he said. “China’s sovereignty and territories have never been divided and will never be allowed to be divided.”
The exchange of words comes as China has recently escalated encroachments into Taiwan’s airspace with dozens of Chinese military planes having flown into the Taiwan air defense identification zone last weekend, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry.