‘Island will not bow to China’: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen

TAIPEI: Taiwan will not bow to pressure by Beijing and will defend its democratic way of life, President Tsai Ing-wen said 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.