Taiwan tells China that armed confrontation ‘absolutely not an option’
TAIPEI — Armed confrontation between Taiwan and China is “absolutely not an option”, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Monday, as she also pledged to boost the island’s defenses and reiterated her willingness to talk to Beijing.
Democratic Taiwan, which China claims as its territory, has come under increasing military and political pressure from Beijing, especially after Chinese war games in early August following a Taipei visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Tsai, in her national day speech outside the presidential office, said it was “regrettable” that China had escalated its intimidation and threatened peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and region.
China should not think there is room for compromise in the commitment of Taiwan’s people to democracy and freedom, she said.
“I want to make clear to the Beijing authorities that armed confrontation is absolutely not an option for our two sides. Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait.”
Tsai said her government looked forward to the gradual post-pandemic resumption of healthy and orderly people-to-people exchanges across the strait, which would ease tensions.
But Taiwan will show the world it is taking responsibility for its own defense, she added.
Taiwan is ramping up mass production of precision missiles and high-performance naval vessels, and working to acquire small, highly mobile weapons that will ensure Taiwan is fully prepared to respond to “external military threats”, Tsai said.
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 program of its own military.