Taiwanese President, Tsai Ing-wen, on Wednesday urged China to avoid “being a source of conflict,’’ while pledging that her country would neither escalate confrontation with its cross-Strait neighbour nor back down in the face of diplomatic pressures.
Speaking on Taiwan’s National Day, Tsai said her country faced a shifting Indo-Pacific regional dynamic and that its relations with China had grown more strained.
“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,” Ing-wen said.
“As president, I want to assure everyone that we will neither act rashly to escalate confrontation, nor will we give in,” Ing-wen said.
Ing-wen said that China’s unilateral diplomatic offensive and military coercion have harmed mutual relations and challenged the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
“The best way to defend Taiwan is to make it indispensable and irreplaceable to the world,” Ing-wen said.
Ing-wen’s speech echoed U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s recent criticism of Chinese suppression of Taiwan’s diplomatic efforts.
She said Taiwan would continue to work with like-minded countries sharing democratic values, such as the U.S., Japan and the EU.
Ing-wen vowed to make Taiwan stronger by bolstering the island’s national security, economy and social safety net.
Taiwan has had its own government since 1949, when Chinese nationalists fled after losing a civil war to communists in China.
Beijing considers the self-ruled democracy part of its territory.
The speech was Ing-wen’s third National Day address since taking office in May 2016.