Taiwan leader tells China war 'absolutely not an option' (2024)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China's threats of military action against Taiwan are “absolutely not an option” and will “only push our two sides further from each other," Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said Monday.

Speaking on Taiwan’s National Day, Tsai said China should not mistake Taiwan’s multiparty democratic political system for weakness and “attempt to divide Taiwanese society.”

“I want to make clear to the Beijing authorities that armed confrontation is absolutely not an option for our two sides," Tsai said. “Only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait," she said.

Fighter jets and a Chinook helicopter displaying Taiwan’s flag flew overhead while the band from Taipei’s First Girls’ High School played hits ranging from the Beatles to Lady Gaga.

National Day festivities included international guests such as Palau President Surangel S. Whipps Jr., whose country’s blue and yellow flag flew alongside Taiwan’s red banner with its blue square and white star.

The holiday evokes Taiwan’s endurance as a separate political entity with a thriving democracy and free press. Generally known as “Double Ten” in Taiwan, it commemorates a 1911 uprising by troops in the Chinese city of Wuhan that eventually led to downfall of the Qing Dynasty. China’s Communist Party swept the Nationalist government from the mainland amid civil war in 1949 and continues to claim the island.

In response, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning reiterated China's long-held stance that “Taiwan is .... not an independent state and has no so-called president."

“The root cause of the current tensions in the Taiwan Strait is that the (ruling Democratic Progressive Party) authorities have been clinging to Taiwan independence and colluding with external forces to make provocations," Mao told reporters at a daily briefing. “We are ready to create a wide space for peaceful reunification, but will never leave any room for secessionist activities of Taiwan independence."

Tsai's speech focused largely on Taiwan's success in strengthening the social security net for an aging society and growing its high-tech economy despite the pandemic.

But she also emphasized Taiwan's efforts to protect itself, with increased imports of foreign hardware, revitalization of its domestic arms industry and upgraded training for reserves. Tsai singled out Taiwan's submarine development program and the delivery of its first domestically developed and constructed 10,000-ton landing platform dock, Yushan, as particular successes.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has refocused attention on China and on ways Taiwan can resist a much larger and more powerful foe equipped with the world’s largest standing army and a huge arsenal of missiles.

That was further underscored when China launched threatening military exercises around the island in response to a visit to Taiwan in early August by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Beijing sent ships and planes across the midline of the Taiwan Strait that had long been a buffer zone between the sides in what was seen by some as a rehearsal of a blockade that could presage an attack. The U.S. has warned against such an action and Taiwan's defense chief said the island has sufficient resources to resist an attempt to cut it off from the outside world.

China also declared testing zones around the island in some of the world's most heavily traveled shipping lanes and fired at least four missiles over Taiwan, some of them landing in Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Japan issued diplomatic protests over the missile firings and signed on to a statement from the Group of Seven industrialized countries criticizing the war games.

Despite Beijing's threats, U.S. and other foreign diplomats have continued to visit Taiwan and Washington's commitment to Taiwan's defense appears only to have grown.

Although Taipei and Washington have no formal diplomatic relations — a concession made to Beijing on the establishment of official ties in 1979 — U.S. law requires that Taipei has the ability to defend itself. It also requires Washington to regard all threats to the island as matters of “grave concern."

That commitment rests on a concept of “strategic ambiguity," whereby Washington insists Taiwan’s status must be resolved peacefully but does not say if U.S. forces might be sent in response to a Chinese attack.

As China has ramped up its threats, that concept has eroded. President Joe Biden, in a CBS “60 Minutes” interview last month, said that “U.S. forces, U.S. men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion.”

The White House said after the interview that U.S. policy toward Taiwan hasn’t changed.

Last month, the Biden administration announced a $1.09 billion arms sale to Taiwan, including $355 million for Harpoon air-to-sea missiles; $85 million for Sidewinder air-to-air missile and a $655 million logistics support package for Taiwan’s surveillance radar program, which provides air defense warnings.

China, meanwhile, refuses to acknowledge Taiwanese self-determination or recognize Tsai’s government. The two sides have not had any formal contacts the first of her two terms began in 2016.

Apart from military threats, Beijing blocks Taiwan from participating in international health, economic and cultural forums and has banned some imports from the island in apparent violation of World Trade Organization rules.

Taiwan leader tells China war 'absolutely not an option' (2024)


Taiwan leader tells China war 'absolutely not an option'? ›

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China's threats of military action against Taiwan are “absolutely not an option” and will “only push our two sides further from each other,” Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen

Tsai Ing-wen
Tsai Ing-wen (Chinese: 蔡英文; born 31 August 1956) is a Taiwanese politician who served as the 7th president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) from 2016 to 2024, and was the first woman to hold that position.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Tsai_Ing-wen
said Monday.

Is China legally obligated to invade Taiwan? ›

President Hu Jintao promulgated the law with Presidential Decree No. 34. Although the law, at ten articles, is relatively short, Article 8 formalized the long-standing policy of the PRC to use military means against Taiwan independence in the event peaceful means become otherwise impossible.

Why doesn t China accept Taiwan as a country? ›

China sees self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway province that will eventually be under Beijing's control - and has not ruled out the use of force to take the island.

Does Taiwan want to be part of China? ›

Most Taiwanese people oppose joining PRC for various reasons, including fears of the loss of Taiwan's democracy, human rights, and Taiwanese nationalism.

Is China threatens to retaliate if McCarthy meets Taiwan leader? ›

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen on Wednesday vowed that her government is determined to lead Taiwan to the world despite “external pressure.” BEIJING (AP) — China threatened retaliation on Wednesday if U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy meets with Taiwan's president during her upcoming trip through Los Angeles.

Why does China claim Taiwan is theirs? ›

The Republic of China government retrieved Taiwan in 1945 back from Japan, then fled in 1949 to Taiwan with the aim to retake mainland China. Both the ROC and the PRC still officially (constitutionally) claim mainland China and the Taiwan Area as part of their respective territories.

Why is Taiwan so important to the US? ›

Taiwan has become an important U.S. partner in trade and investment, health, semiconductor and other critical supply chains, investment screening, science and technology, education, and advancing democratic values. The United States approach to Taiwan has remained consistent across decades and administrations.

Why does Japan want Taiwan? ›

The annexation of Taiwan was also based on considerations of productivity and ability to provide raw materials for Japan's expanding economy and to become a ready market for Japanese goods. Taiwan's strategic location was deemed advantageous as well.

Why does USA not Recognise Taiwan? ›

Over the past four decades, the U.S. government's policy of deliberate ambiguity toward Taiwan has been viewed as critical to stabilizing cross-strait relations by seeking to deter the PRC from using force toward the region and dissuade Taiwan from seeking independence.

Has China ever recognize Taiwan? ›

The PRC includes not formally recognizing the ROC as a prerequisite for establishing diplomatic relations. Internationally, the United Nations and all countries that have diplomatic relations with the PRC handle relations with Taiwan according to their own respective "One China" policies.

What percentage of Taiwanese want to reunite with China? ›

A poll released by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation yesterday showed 48.9 percent of Taiwanese support obtaining formal national independence, while 26.9 percent support maintaining the “status quo” and 11.8 percent support unification with China.

Are Taiwanese Chinese citizens? ›

Residents of the Taiwan Area are not considered Chinese citizens, even though the PRC's extant claim over areas controlled by the Republic of China (ROC), Taiwanese still need to obtain a valid visa in order to enter China.

Is Taiwan a democracy? ›

In the early 1960s, Taiwan entered a period of rapid economic growth and industrialization called the "Taiwan Miracle". In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the ROC transitioned from a one-party state under martial law to a multi-party democracy, with democratically elected presidents since 1996.

Could Taiwan repel a Chinese invasion? ›

Based on an analysis of three stages of a hypothetical PRC invasion (blockade and bombing, amphibious invasion, and island combat operations), Taiwan should maximize its ability to withstand and repel the amphibious invasion phase of any operation by prioritizing mines and minelayers, antiship missiles, and mobile long ...

Has the US committed to defending Taiwan? ›

The U.S. is committed to the defense of Taiwan, he said, and that's spelled out in the Taiwan Relations Act. The act includes the requirement to provide Taiwan with the arms it needs to defend itself, he said.

Has China ever attempted to invade Taiwan? ›

The First Taiwan Strait Crisis (also known as the Formosa Crisis, the 1954–1955 Taiwan Strait Crisis, the Offshore Islands Crisis, the Quemoy-Matsu Crisis, and the 1955 Taiwan Strait Crisis) was a brief armed conflict between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic of China (ROC) in Taiwan.

Does the US officially recognize Taiwan as part of China? ›

The United States "acknowledged" the "One China" position of both sides of the Taiwan Strait. U.S. policy has not recognized the PRC's sovereignty over Taiwan; U.S. policy has not recognized Taiwan as a sovereign country; and. U.S. policy has considered Taiwan's status as unsettled.

Has China ever threatened Taiwan? ›

China reaffirms its military threats against Taiwan weeks before the island's presidential election. TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Weeks before Taiwan holds elections for its president and legislature, China renewed its threat to use military force to annex the self-governing island democracy it claims as its own territory.

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