Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) urged Taiwanese people Friday to hold dear the 823 Spirit, which she said is the spirit of solidarity that binds Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu into a "community of life."
"When commemorating 823, we do not forget the 823 Spirit. We will safeguard the Republic of China (Taiwan) and will never yield an inch," Tsai said while addressing a ceremony marking the 61st anniversary of the Aug. 23 Artillery Bombardment of 1958 at Taiwushan Cemetery in the outlying county of Kinmen.
Aug. 23 marks the start of the bombardment of Kinmen by Communist China in 1958, nine years after the ROC government relocated to Taiwan during a civil war on the mainland.
Within 44 days, 475,000 artillery shells were fired at Kinmen, none of which succeeded in allowing communist troops to take the ROC-controlled island, which lies only 10 kilometers from Xiamen in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian, according to Academia Sinica data.
The 823 Artillery Bombardment is regarded as a significant battle that helped safeguard the ROC government on Taiwan.
At the public cemetery where the military officers and soldiers who died in the battle rest in peace forever, Tsai paid homage to the dead with flowers and burning incense.
She hosted the ceremony in the company of National Defense Minister Yen De-fa (嚴德發), Transportation Minister Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) and Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇), as well as Kinmen Magistrate Yang Cheng-wu (楊鎮浯) and several military officers.
After the ceremony, when asked by reporters about Beijing's condemnation of Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party after the United States agreed to sell Taiwan advanced fighter jets, Tsai said it is highly appropriate to strengthen the country's self-defense capabilities "so that the lifestyle of democracy and freedom can be safeguarded."
She also expressed hope that China can be a "good neighbor" of Taiwan.