| 22 October 2021, Friday |

Taiwan president to pledge defense of sovereignty, democracy

In a significant address on Sunday, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will commit to safeguard the island’s sovereignty and democracy, saying the island faces difficulties that are more complicated and severe than ever before, at a time when tensions with China have grown.

China has increased military and political pressure on democratic Taiwan, which has seen four days of mass intrusions by China’s air force into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone this month.

Tsai will declare Taiwan is on the front lines of safeguarding democracy and faces extremely complicated and terrible challenges, according to an outline of her national day speech provided to Reuters by a source briefed on its contents.

Tsai would reaffirm Taiwan’s unwavering commitment to self-defense and regional peace and stability, while also emphasizing that Taiwan will not “move rashly.”

She will add, though, that there can be no retreat when it comes to Taiwan’s sovereignty.

Following a week of tensions with Taiwan that raised international alarm, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to achieve “peaceful reunification” with the island, but did not specifically discuss the use of force.

Taiwan reacted fiercely to the address, claiming that only the people of Taiwan have the right to decide their own fate and condemning China’s coercive tactics.

Tsai was re-elected by a landslide last year on a promise to stand up to Beijing, but China refuses to speak to her, fearing she is a separatist.

Tsai says Taiwan is an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.

She has made strengthening Taiwan’s defenses a cornerstone of her administration to enable it to mount a more credible deterrence to China which is ramping up an ambitious modernization programme of its own military.

Tsai spent Saturday evening at a national day reception at the Hsinchu air base in northern Taiwan, where she thanked the armed forces for their efforts to defend the island.