President Tsai Ing-wen said Tuesday that Taiwanese people remained resolved to defend the island following China’s huge military drills.
Tensions in the Taiwan Strait have risen to their highest in years since Beijing staged unprecedented drills in retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei earlier this month.
Tsai made the remarks when meeting a visiting delegation of US scholars on the 64th anniversary of a Chinese artillery attack known as the “823 bombardment”.
“That battle to protect our homeland showed the world that no threat of any kind could shake the Taiwanese people’s resolve to defend their nation — not in the past, not now, and not in the future,” Tsai said.
China’s army fired 470,000 shells at Kinmen Islands and nearby islets in 1958, killing 618 people in an attack that lasted 44 days.
Taiwan lives under constant threat of an invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled democracy as part of its territory to be seized one day — by force if necessary.
Beijing lashes out at any diplomatic action that might lend Taiwan legitimacy and has responded with growing anger to visits by Western officials and politicians.
For a week after Pelosi’s visit, it sent warships, ballistic missiles and fighter jets into the waters and skies around Taiwan.
Taiwan has accused China of using the visit as an excuse to kickstart drills that could serve as rehearsal for an invasion.