Days after Taiwan sounded the alarm that China could launch a full-scale invasion by 2025, its president said he did not want war but warned that the island was ready to defend itself if necessary.
“Taiwan is not looking for a military confrontation,” said President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday at a security forum in Taipei. “She hopes for a peaceful, stable, predictable and mutually beneficial coexistence with her neighbors. But Taiwan will also do everything it can to defend its freedom and its democratic way of life. “
She reiterated that the island’s heightened tensions with China could have “devastating effects” on international security and the global economy if not handled carefully. In an article published on Tuesday, Ms. Tsai warned of “catastrophic consequences” in Asia should the island fall to China.
Their concerns came when China increased its military intimidation towards Taiwan. Although Taiwan claims to be a self-governing democracy, Beijing views the island as a breakaway province.
Last week, China sent 148 fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defense zone over four days in what has been described as the worst escalation between the two neighbors in four decades. The latest developments have raised the alarm among leaders around the world. The US, Australia and Japan have urged China to commit to a peaceful solution.
“Taiwan will work with other regional countries to ensure stability,” said Ms. Tsai, while seeking support from other countries during the stalemate with China.
She added, “Taiwan is determined to work with regional actors to prevent armed conflict in eastern China, the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.”
Despite tensions with China, Taiwan welcomes a delegation from France this week and former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who visited the country in person.
Alain Richard, France’s former defense minister and head of the French delegation, referred to Taiwan as a country despite the Chinese embassy in Paris warning of the visit, which would damage bilateral relations.
Mr Richard said the de facto Taiwanese embassy in Paris had “done a very good job representing your country”.
Speaking from the same forum as Ms. Tsai, Mr. Abbott condemned China for its aggressive show of force against Taiwan and Australia. “Its relative power may have peaked with the aging of the population, the slowdown in the economy, and the creaking of finances. It is entirely possible that Beijing could strike catastrophically soon, ”he said.
He added that he didn’t think the US could watch China “swallow” Taiwan.
Meanwhile, US officials have announced that a group of two dozen special operations soldiers and US Marines have been training with the Taiwanese armed forces “for at least a year” The Wall Street Journal.
This has prompted the Chinese Foreign Ministry to issue a statement saying that China will “take all necessary steps to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.