"Will defend democracy": Taiwan rejects reunification with China

The People’s Republic of China recently reiterated its wish for a “peaceful” reunification with Taiwan. A cancellation follows from the island. Taiwan’s President Tsai emphasizes that one will not bow to pressure. But the military threats made by the big neighbor are becoming clearer.

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has rejected Beijing’s call for “reunification”. “Nobody can force Taiwan to take the path that China has planned for us,” said Tsai in a speech on the national holiday. Taiwan hopes for improved relations with mainland China. “But there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure.” Taiwan is “at the forefront to defend democracy”.

China’s President Xi Jinping had previously affirmed the Chinese claim to a “peaceful” reunification with Taiwan. “The complete reunification of our country will and can be achieved,” he said on Saturday.

Taiwan’s independence is “the greatest obstacle to the reunification of the motherland and a serious hidden danger,” said Xi, who also warned against foreign interference. “

Tsai renewed her willingness to talk and urged Beijing to engage in a dialogue “based on equality”. At the same time, she warned her compatriots of the global political consequences of a change in the status quo in the relationship between Beijing and Taipei. “Every step we take will affect the future direction of our world, and conversely, the future direction of our world will affect the future of Taiwan.”

Tensions have been increasing for years

Military tensions between Beijing and Taipei have been increasing for years. Beijing regards Taiwan, which split off from China in 1949 after the Communists’ victory, as a breakaway province that is to be reunited with the mainland – with military force if necessary. However, Taiwan was never part of the People’s Republic.

Incidents of Chinese fighter jets entering the Taiwanese air defense space have increased in recent months. In the days around the Chinese national holiday on October 1 alone, there were 150 such combat flight missions. Recently, three Chinese planes, including two fighter jets, broke into Taiwan’s air defense space, according to the Ministry of Defense in Taipei.

Since Tsai, who is far more critical of China than her predecessor, was elected Taiwanese president five years ago, China has also increased economic and diplomatic pressure on the island. All official communication channels that existed up to that point were discontinued. Tsai describes Taiwan as an “already independent country” that is not part of “a China”. So far, however, it has not taken any steps to declare formal independence. Beijing has long warned that this was a “red line” that could trigger an invasion.

Taiwanese want the status quo

Polls show that the majority of the island’s population does not want to be ruled by Beijing. Most Taiwanese are in favor of maintaining the status quo. But more nationalistic attitudes are on the rise, especially among young people. Many fear that Taiwan could face the same fate as Hong Kong if Chinese influence increased.

Hung Chen-lun, who watched the national holiday celebrations on Sunday with his two children, said of the Chinese call for reunification, “As a Taiwanese, I don’t think we can accept it. Just look at what happened in Hong Kong . “

Audience member Chan Yun-ching said many of his compatriots felt helpless. “Reunification at this time is not appropriate. But we are in no position to declare independence because the international community will not recognize us. It is useless.”