Taiwan’s president has warned that China is increasing its military threat every day. Tsai Ing-wen said the presence of US military trainers on the island was part of Taipei’s strategy to confront Beijing. The comments came during her first visit to the United States since taking office in May 2016. Tsai confirmed that there are no plans for independence, but she vowed to defend Taiwan against Beijing’s ever more assertive stance.
Taiwan’s president said Sunday that Chinese military movements toward the island have increased in recent months a development she said was contributed by Beijing’s sense of insecurity over Taiwan. She also urged China to engage with her government instead of seeking to disarm it or change its political system, maintaining that dialogue between Taipei and Beijing could help reduce cross-strait tensions.
Tsai, who is expected to attend a summit at the White House in October and will be hosted by President Trump , has been trying to maintain stable relations with Beijing despite a lack of formal ties between their governments. In her first visit to the United States since taking office in May 2016, she was on Sunday interviewed by NBC News after attending services at an Episcopal church in Washington and visiting the Lincoln Memorial.
I think that every day, we’re seeing that China is trying to influence Taiwan with a lot of money and influence its internal politics, Tsai said, according to her office’s transcript of the interview. There’s no free democracy. She added that Taiwan has the capability to defend itself.
All these people are working on one principle, which is they want to see a more secure China, so let’s work together, she said of Beijing’s leaders. And they will have less reason for not being insecure if you have good relations with the United States. A day earlier in New York, she told The Washington Post that Taiwan’s international presence was continuing to grow in the absence of diplomatic ties.
Tsai also said in the interview with NBC News that Chinese military movements toward Taiwan have increased in recent months a development she said was contributed by Beijing’s sense of insecurity over Taiwan despite its growing arsenal of missiles aimed at the island.
I wish the Chinese military would stop making these kinds of drills. I don’t know what exactly is behind this, she said. We certainly hope that this kind of military exercise won’t influence Taiwan’s situation because it has no need for tense situations across the Taiwan Strait or directionless pushing away of blame by other countries.
Taiwan was a Japanese colony for 50 years until the end of World War II, when China’s Kuomintang nationalist government took control of the island. The Nationalist government moved to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the Chinese civil war to Mao Zedong ‘s communists. The defeated Kuomintang kept control over Taiwan, keeping the island a de facto independent state.
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei have eased since the election of the China-friendly President Ma Ying-jeou in 2008. Under his administration, which ended in May 2016 with Tsai’s election, Taiwanese were able to travel to China under an individual visit scheme. However, cross-strait relations soured after Tsai was elected.
Beijing sees the island as part of its territory to be brought back into its fold, by force if necessary. But Taiwanese are increasingly viewing themselves as distinct from China. Public polls have shown broad support for Tsai’s government and disapproval for Beijing’s stance on Taiwan. According to a poll conducted in May 2016 by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation, about 80 percent of Taiwanese see themselves as Taiwanese and another 8.1 percent consider themselves both Taiwanese and Chinese. Only 2.9 percent identify themselves as Chinese only, while 3.4 percent said they were other or refused to answer.