Taiwan chief says armed conflict with China ‘absolutely not an option’

China’s threats of military action against Taiwan are “absolutely not an option” and will only push the two sides “further apart”, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Monday.

Addressing the self-governing island’s National Day, Tsai said China should not confuse Taiwan’s multi-party democratic system with weakness and “try to divide Taiwanese society”.

“I want to make it clear to the authorities in Beijing that armed confrontation is absolutely not an option for our two parties,” Tsai stressed in his speech.

“Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy and freedom can there be a basis for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait,” she said. eager to add.

Reacting to his remarks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning reiterated China’s long-standing position that the island is “not an independent state and has no self- saying president”.

“The root cause of the current tensions in the Taiwan Strait is that the authorities have clung to Taiwan independence and colluded with outside forces to make provocations,” Mao told reporters during a briefing. daily press.

“We are ready to create a broad space for peaceful reunification, but we will never leave room for Taiwan independence secessionist activities.”

Late last month, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi vowed to firmly oppose any foreign support for Chinese Taipei’s independence from the mainland in the face of US attempts to woo separatist forces on the island territory.

“We must fight Taiwan’s separatist separatist activities with the strongest resolve and take the strongest measures to oppose outside interference,” Wang told the 77th session of the UN General Assembly. At New York.

“Any attempt to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history,” he insisted.

While Tsai’s speech on Monday focused primarily on Taipei’s “success” in improving the social safety net for an aging society and its growing high-tech economy, she also highlighted the growing efforts of Taiwan to protect itself from China’s claim to the island – both with increased foreign material imports and the revitalization of the domestic arms industry and improved training of reservists.

The Taipei leader went on to single out the island’s underwater development program and the delivery of its first domestically developed and built 10,000-ton landing platform pier, Yushan, as particular successes.

Fighter jets and a Chinook helicopter emblazoned with the flag of Taiwan flew overhead as the Taipei First Girls’ High School band played hits ranging from The Beatles to Lady Gaga.

Taipei’s National Day celebrations included a flight of fighter jets and helicopters displaying the Taiwan flag and a high school band playing Western music with some international guests in attendance.

The holiday – commonly known as “Double Ten” in Taiwan – however commemorates a 1911 uprising by troops in the Chinese city of Wuhan that ultimately led to the fall of the Qing dynasty. The Chinese Communist Party swept the mainland’s Nationalist government amid a civil war in 1949 and continues to lay claim to the island.

China has sovereignty over Taipei, and under the internationally recognized one-China policy, almost all countries recognize this sovereignty, which means they refrain from diplomatic contact with the breakaway government. from Taipei.

The United States, too, claims its commitment to this principle, but in violation of its own declared policy and in an attempt to antagonize Beijing, Washington has courted the secessionist government in Taipei, supporting its anti-China position and providing it with a large weapons cache.

This commitment has long been based on the concept of “strategic ambiguity” – which, while Washington wants to see Taiwan’s status resolved peacefully, does not say whether US forces could be sent in response to a Chinese attack – which has gradually eroded as China’s position the threat grew.

In August, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi sparked controversy when she made a brief visit to Taipei and met Tsai in a slight in Beijing. China responded by asserting its sovereignty and staging massive military exercises around Chinese Taipei for several days.

These included sending ships and planes across the center line of the Taiwan Strait, which has long been a buffer zone between the sides.

China has also declared test areas around the island in some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and fired at least four missiles over Taiwan, some of them landing in China’s exclusive economic zone. Japan.

Despite Beijing’s strong reaction, US diplomats continued to visit Taiwan, and Washington’s commitment to Taipei’s defense only grew.

US President Joe Biden insisted during a CBS “60 Minutes” interview last month that “American forces, American men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.”

However, the White House claimed after the interview that US policy towards Taiwan had not changed.

Last month, the Biden administration announced a $1.09 billion arms sale to Taiwan, including $355 million for Harpoon air-to-sea missiles and $85 million for Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, said the State Department.

The bulk of the sale, however, is a $655 million logistics support package for Taiwan’s surveillance radar program, which provides air defense warnings.

The State Department claimed the equipment was necessary for Taiwan to “maintain sufficient self-defense capability.”

China, however, has refused to recognize Taipei’s self-determination and has refused to recognize Tsai’s government or have formal contact with it since the start of his first of two terms in 2016.