In her Lunar New Year statement on Sunday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen praised democratic nations for their support of the island and promised to “stride forth” into the globe, striking a defiant tone in the face of relentless Chinese pressure.
China, which claims the democratically-ruled island as its own territory, has boosted military operations surrounding Taiwan in the last two years and escalated efforts to limit its international role, criticizing those who have attempted to encourage or develop ties with Taipei.
Tsai expressed gratitude for increased international support for Taiwan in a short pre-recorded video greeting a day before the eve of Lunar New Year on Monday, the ceremonial start of the most important holiday in the Chinese-speaking world.
“I wish to thank all democratic partners in particular for their support to Taiwan over the last year,” she remarked. “We will continue to develop our exchanges with all countries and expand our reach around the world.”
Taiwan has been encouraged not just by the United States, its traditional defender, but also by leaders and politicians in Japan, Europe, and the G7 group of industrialized nations, all of which have enraged Beijing.
Tsai neither directly mentioned China nor directly offered it new year greetings, simply extending best wishes to “good friends” around the world celebrating the festival, which is also observed in countries such as Vietnam and South Korea.
Last year Tsai wished China a happy Lunar New Year, but said she would not yield to Chinese pressure and reiterated a call for dialogue to resume with Beijing, which China rejected.