Taipei, Aug. 28 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Wednesday told the largest wartime veterans service organization in the United States that Taiwan will not intentionally provoke China, but neither will it be naïve to Beijing's true intentions.
Speaking via a pre-recorded video before the 101st American Legion's annual national convention in Indiana, Tsai said that Taiwan will not pursue conflict with China, "but we ask that they (China) respect our democracy. We will not intentionally provoke China, but neither will we be naïve to China's true intentions."
Tsai said Taiwan struggles with a giant that has chosen to use new tools of technological advancement not for the greater good, but to sow disinformation, division, and discord in free and open societies.
"As I have said again and again, Taiwan will never succumb to this pressure. Not on my watch," Tsai said.
Speaking of the U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the president said Taiwan doesn't purchase military hardware because it pursues conflict, but because power only responds to strength.
Following the U.S. Department of State's approval of a US$2.22 billion arms package to Taiwan on July 8, the Trump administration on Aug. 20 approved the sale of 66 F-16Vs to the island nation.
Citing the example of Beijing's provocative behavior, Tsai said as Chinese fighter planes barrel across the center line of the Taiwan Strait and cut through Taiwan's air space, "we cannot afford to be naïve about their intentions. We cannot deter aggression if we are not prepared to protect ourselves."
According to the Presidential Office, this is the first time Taiwan's president was invited to deliver a speech before the convention, which was attended by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this year.
Founded in 1919, The American Legion is the largest wartime veterans service organization in the U.S. and has nearly 2 million members, according to its website.