In a ferocious pre-election rebuke to China, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen declared on Saturday that her life’s work was to ensure that the island continued to belong to its people and that Taiwan’s existence was a provocation to no one.
Taiwan’s local elections on November 26 occur one month after Chinese President Xi Jinping won an unprecedented third term in office. Xi has increased military pressure on the democratically-run island to recognise Beijing’s sovereignty.
Tsai told thousands of cheering supporters at a rally in central Taipei that much more was at stake, the first time she has so explicitly attacked China in this campaign, despite the fact that the vote for mayors and councillors is ostensibly about domestic issues.
Tsai asserted that under her leadership, more and more nations see Taiwan’s democracy and security as the key to world peace and that she had not “surrendered” to Xi’s “one country, two systems” plan for autonomy under Chinese rule.
At a rally for her ruling Democratic Progressive Party, she declared, “I want to tell everyone that the existence of Taiwan and Taiwanese people’s insistence on freedom and democracy are not a provocation to anyone.”
“As president, my calling is to make every effort to let Taiwan still be the Taiwan of the Taiwanese people.”
After US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August, China held war simulations nearby. Since then, it has conducted military exercises in the area, including nearly daily fighter aircraft crossings of the delicate median line in the constrained Taiwan Strait.
As per the White House, US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi will meet the following week and discuss Taiwan.
(with inputs from agencies)