– The more we achieve, the greater the pressure we get from China. No one can force Taiwan to follow the path that China has pointed out for us, Tsai said in a speech in connection with the island’s national day.
In reality, Taiwan has full autonomy, but the island has never formally declared independence from China. The two parties have lived separately since the Communists won the Civil War in China in 1949.
However, the government in Beijing perceives Taiwan as Chinese territory, and has promised to take control, by force if necessary.
The island’s 23 million inhabitants live with a constant threat of Chinese invasion.
China has stepped up pressure on Taiwan under President Xi Jinping. In the days leading up to China’s National Day on October 1, about 150 fighter jets were sent into Taiwan’s air defense zone, a record number.
A record was set with 380 such incidents last year, but it has been blown up for the longest time with 600 so far this year. On Saturday, Xi said a peaceful reunification with Taiwan “will and can be achieved.”
“We hope for an improvement in the relationship and will not act recklessly, but there must be no illusions that the Taiwanese people will give in to pressure,” Tsai said.
China also reacted strongly to a group of French senators visiting Taiwan this week, and in September a British warship passed through the Taiwan Strait for the first time, to strong Chinese protests.
American warships have done the same thing on several occasions.
Only a few states recognize Taiwan. Neither Norway nor any other NATO country is among them.
Unpopular in Beijing
Tsai is very unpopular in Beijing because she refuses to accept China’s doctrine that Taiwan is part of “one China”.
But she has also not taken steps to declare formal independence, something Beijing has put as a “red line” that will lead to invasion.
Tsai has also offered China talks, but the offers have been rejected. The formal channels were broken after Tsai’s election victory in 2016.
On Sunday, she reiterated that she wants talks. She called on Beijing to enter into “dialogue on the basis of equality”.