Military Tension

Tsai talks the talk and walks the walk over China

Key note speech shows that Taiwan is open to dialog but refuses to be bullied by Beijing

Taiwan is the shining light of democracy in China’s backyard. It is also classified as a “renegade province” by the unelected elite in Beijing.

Using force to reunite the island with the mainland has not been ruled out by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

As the CCP escalates military tension in the Taiwan Strait, reconciling the historic differences dating back to the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 continue to be challenging.

“Our commitment to our sovereignty and democratic values will not change, but we will also maintain strategic flexibility and be responsive to changes,” President Tsai Ing-wen said.

In a keynote address to celebrate National Day, she also described the situation as “quite tense” before calling for “meaningful dialogue.”

Mutual respect

But Tsai stressed that they must take place in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

“As long as the Beijing authorities are willing to resolve antagonisms and improve cross-strait relations, while parity and dignity are maintained, we are willing to work together to facilitate meaningful dialogue,” she said.

Her comments came on the 109th anniversary of the Wuchang uprising. The revolt led to the overthrow of China’s Qing dynasty and the 1911 formation of the Republic of China, which is still the island’s formal name.

Still, relations between Beijing and Taipei have become increasingly strained in the past three months after high-level visits to the island democracy by senior United States officials.

A planned US$7 billion advanced arms deal with Washington following last year’s $8 billion agreement for military hardware has left President Xi Jinping’s administration furious.

To illustrate the depth of deteriorating diplomatic relations, the threat of military conflict has increased.

Scramble fighters

Taiwan’s air force has been forced to scramble fighters to intercept People’s Liberation Army jets over the “highly-sensitive midline” of the Taiwan Strait in what has become a nearly daily ritual.

Careful not inflame the issue, Tsai chose her words carefully in a far-reaching speech about the state of the region and rarely mentioned the word China.

“From sovereignty disputes in the South and East China Seas and the China-India border conflict, to developments in the Taiwan Strait, as well as the ‘Hong Kong version of the National Security Law’ that has garnered international concern, it is clear that democracy, peace, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific are currently facing serious challenges,” she said.

Hardly what Beijing wants to hear even if they take out earplugs.

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