Taiwan to strengthen defences as China tensions escalate

Taiwan to strengthen defences as China tensions escalate
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen called for ‘meaningful dialogue’ with China as she addressed told people at the island’s National Day celebrations [Ann Wang/Reuters]

President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday promised to strengthen Taiwan’s defences and work more closely with regional partners on security as she called for ‘meaningful dialogue’ with China, which claims the island as its own.In a speech to mark Taiwan’s National Day, Tsai said the government would continue to modernise the island’s defence capabilities and enhance its capacity for asymmetric warfare to “deal with military expansion and provocation from the other side of the Taiwan Strait”. Asymmetric warfare is designed to make any Chinese attack difficult and costly, for example with smart mines and portable missiles.She also stressed the need for dialogue across the strait to reduce tension.“As long as the Beijing authorities are willing to resolve antagonisms and improve cross-strait relations, while parity and dignity are maintained, we are willing to work together to facilitate meaningful dialogue,” she said.“Maintaining stability in cross-strait relations is in the best interests of both sides. We are committed to upholding cross-strait stability, but this is not something Taiwan can shoulder alone; it is the joint responsibility of both sides.”Self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has come under increasing pressure from Beijing since Tsai was first elected in 2016. It has intensified manoeuvres since she was returned to office in a landslide in January and has stepped up air force activity  near the island in the past few weeks sometimes crossing the Taiwan Strait’s sensitive midline that normally serves as an unofficial buffer zone.

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