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Wednesday October 27, 2021

Taiwan won’t bow to Beijing’s pressure, says president

By AFP
October 11, 2021
Taiwan won’t bow to Beijing’s pressure, says president

TAIPEI: Taiwan will not bow to pressure by Beijing and will defend its democratic way of life, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Sunday, following a spike in incursions by Chinese warplanes into its air defence zone.

Self-governed Taiwan’s 23 million people live under the constant threat of invasion by authoritarian China, which views the island as its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary.

"The more we achieve, the greater the pressure we face from China," Tsai said in a speech marking Taiwan’s National Day, adding: "Nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us."

She described Taiwan as "standing on democracy’s first line of defence". "We hope for an easing of... relations (with Beijing) and will not act rashly, but there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure," she added. The two sides have been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949.

Tensions have risen to their highest in decades under Chinese President Xi Jinping, who broke off official communication with Taipei following Tsai’s election five years ago and ramped up economic, diplomatic and military pressure.

The latest flare-up has been a surge in flights by Chinese fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ). Some 150 sorties were made into the zone in the days surrounding China’s own National Day on 1 October -- a record number.

Three Chinese planes, including two fighter jets, crossed into the zone on Sunday, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.Xi has made taking Taiwan a key goal of his leadership which he looks set to extend to a third term in 2022. On Saturday, he declared in a speech that "the complete reunification of our country will be and can be realised".

He said he favoured "peaceful reunification" but his words come after months of increased military threats, including the recent surge in air incursions as well as heavily publicised military drills simulating an invasion of Taiwan. Last year, there were a record 380 sorties. There have already been more than 600 this year.

The ADIZ is not the same as Taiwan’s territorial airspace. It includes a far greater area that overlaps with part of China’s own air defence identification zone and even includes some of the mainland. Tsai, who has won two elections, is loathed by Beijing because she regards Taiwan as an "already independent" country, not part of "one China".