Taiwan will not "bow to pressure" from China, and will continue to bolster its defence to make sure that "nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out" for itself, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said in her National Day address on Sunday, Oct. 10.
Beijing rebuked Tsai for her remarks, saying that her speech "incited confrontation" and "distorted facts", Reuters reported.
Xi Jinping vows "peaceful reunification" after record number of Chinese incursions into Taiwan's air defence zone
Tsai's comments came a day after Chinese President Xi Jinping said “peaceful reunification" between the Chinese mainland and the self-ruled island would best serve both their interests.
Xi made these remarks days after a record number of Chinese military aircraft incurred into Taiwan's Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ).
Launched on China's National Day on Oct. 1, and lasting for four days during the country's Golden Week, the 149 incursions prompted Taiwan's defence minister to say that military tensions with China was "the most serious" in more than 40 years, and to warn of a risk of "misfire" across the strait.
Xi had made no mention of the military activity in his speech, nor the use of force, marking a contrast from the past -- he vowed to "smash" any attempts at independence in a speech on July 1, and said in 2019 that Beijing reserved the right to use force to bring Taiwan into the mainland fold.
Xi: Those who forget their heritage will be judged by history
Xi further said on Oct. 9 that "those who forget their heritage, betray their country and seek to break up their country will not come to a good end, and will certainly be forsaken by their countrymen and judged by history".
Beijing views Taiwan as part of its territory, and has not ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control.
Tsai has also warned of "catastrophic" consequences for regional peace should Taiwan fall to China.
Taiwan no longer seen as "orphan of Asia"
Heightened Chinese military pressure on Taiwan has come amid signs of growing support towards Taiwan internationally -- from Lithuania's welcoming of a de facto Taiwanese embassy despite Chinese opposition, to individual athletes from various countries choosing to show solidarity for their Taiwanese counterparts.
In her National Day speech, Tsai acknowledged these growing relations, saying that "Taiwan is no longer on the margins", with more "democratic friends willing to stand up for [them]", including Washington, Tokyo, Canberra and Brussels.
"We believe we have the ability to work with like-minded partners to contribute to the international community. Taiwan today is no longer seen as the orphan of Asia, but as an Island of Resilience that can face challenges with courage," she said.
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Top image via Central News Agency