In a ferocious pre-election rebuke to China, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen declared on Saturday that her life’s work was to ensure that the island continued to belong to its people and that Taiwan’s existence was a provocation to no one.
Taiwan’s local elections on November 26 occur one month after Chinese President Xi Jinping won an unprecedented third term in office. Xi has increased military pressure on the democratically run island to recognize Beijing’s sovereignty.
While the vote for mayors and councilors is nominally about domestic issues, Tsai told thousands of cheering supporters at a rally in central Taipei that much more was at stake, the first time she has so explicitly gone after China in this campaign.
Tsai said she had not “surrendered” to Xi’s “one country, two systems” proposal for autonomy under Chinese sovereignty and that under her leadership more and more countries regard Taiwan’s democracy and security as the key to the peace.
China staged war games near Taiwan in August after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei, and has since continued military activities nearby including almost daily fighter jet crossings of the sensitive median line in the narrow Taiwan Strait.