Taiwan ready to protect its freedom in face of China challenge: Tsai

04/09/2019 11:20 PM
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Taipei, April 9 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Tuesday said that Taiwan is ready to defend its democratic way of life amid "unprecedented challenges" from China.

Speaking to U.S. think tanks in Washington during a video conference, Tsai said the nation's "democratic way of life faces unprecedented challenges" from Beijing, which has used multiple approaches to influence public opinion in Taiwan over the years.

"Using economic incentives, control over sources of information and critical subversion; China's objective is to divide our society, erode trust in public institutions, and make people question our traditional alliances," she said.

Tsai reaffirmed the resolution of Taiwanese people to defend democracy and freedom.

"The people of Taiwan are deeply committed to protect this system against all threats, particularly from across the strait," Tsai noted.

The president expressed thanks for the support shown by like-minded countries around the globe, particularly the U.S. and Japan, as they begin to see the true nature of the Chinese government.

Like-minded countries around the world are seeing more clearly that China poses a threat not only to one country, "but to our collective security as well as our shared values and interests."

She also urged Washington to make it clear that protecting the security of Taiwan is vital to the defense of democracy, and any threat to degrade the nation's freedom, democracy and way of life is of critical concern to the U.S.

"This is a message that should not only be conveyed to the people of Taiwan but more importantly to the other side of the Strait, so that they know expansionist actions against Taiwan are also a threat directed to the free world," she added.

Citing the example of Beijing's provocative behavior, Tsai said the People's Liberation Army of China sent two fighter jets across the Taiwan Strait median line late last month, a rare move that violated a long-held tacit agreement between the two sides.

Tsai said this transgression is not only a challenge to the Democratic Progressive Party administration she leads, but also a challenge to the country's democratic system.

To meet rising military threats from China, Tsai said her government has increased the defense budget over the years to build a "nimble, agile, and survivable" armed forces to show it is capable of defending itself and maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

Tsai made the comments during a video conference co-hosted by CSIS, the Brookings Institution, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, during which she spoke and answered questions from scholars.

Speaking under the title "The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) at Forty and U.S.-Taiwan Relations," Tsai said few could have imagined that the Taiwan-U.S. partnership would become stronger than ever 40 years after Washington recognized Beijing in 1979.

Looking forward to the future, the president said she sees great potential for bilateral economic and trade relations between Taiwan and the U.S. as the two have a complementary relationship, not a competitive one.

She again called on the U.S. to officially engage in talks with Taiwan on a bilateral trade agreement so the country can further contribute to the Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The TRA was signed in April 1979 by then U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a few months after the U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

The TRA provides a legal basis for unofficial relations between the U.S. and Taiwan and enshrines in law the U.S.' commitment to help Taiwan maintain its self-defense capability.

(By Joseph Yeh)


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