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President says Taiwan will stand up to 'threats from authoritarian actors'

Tsai-Ing wen says Taiwan on front lines of assault on democracy by authoritarian regimes

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President Tsai Ing-wen. (Twitter, Tsai Ing-wen screenshot)

President Tsai Ing-wen. (Twitter, Tsai Ing-wen screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Wednesday (Oct. 13) released a video in which she said that her country will not give in to threats by "authoritarian actors" amid waves of incursions by Chinese military aircraft in Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ), propaganda videos, and political pressure from Beijing last week.

On Wednesday afternoon, Tsai released a brief video from her Twitter account prefaced with a statement in which she wrote that Taiwan is the first line of defense against "increasing threats by authoritarian actors," a clear reference to China's government. She pledged Taiwan will not give in and will continue to cooperate with democratic allies worldwide to "enhance our collective resilience."

In the video, Tsai pointed out that authoritarian regimes are exploiting the pandemic to paint the narrative that their dictatorial "alternative model" is more "adaptive" than democracies in coping with COVID-19. Tsai then listed gray zone tactics, military threats, and disinformation as methods Beijing is employing to try to "erode our citizens' confidence in democratic institutions" and polarize the society.

The president stressed that Taiwan finds itself on the front lines of an assault by the authoritarian regime in China. To counter this, Tsai said her government has been "working diligently to combat such coercion."

She stated that Taiwan will share its experience countering China's tactics and keep coordinating with "like-minded countries to safeguard the liberal democratic world order." She added that Taiwan will join with allies in tackling the "unprecedented challenges from authoritarian regimes."

On Oct. 1, during China's national day, a record 38 Chinese military aircraft violated Taiwan's ADIZ, though this mark was quickly surpassed with 39 more People's Liberation Army Aircraft (PLAAF) planes the next day. An additional 16 PLAAF aircraft appeared on Oct. 3, and another record-breaking 56 planes breached the zone on Oct. 4, bringing the four-day total to 149 warplanes.

During a speech on Oct. 10, which in China marked the 110th anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising and in Taiwan is celebrated as its national day, China's Chairman Xi Jinping (習近平) said, "Reunification of the nation must be realized, and will definitely be realized." Unlike previous speeches, Xi refrained from threatening the use of force, instead saying "Reunification through a peaceful manner is the most in line with the overall interest of the Chinese nation, including Taiwan compatriots."

That same day, Tsai responded to China's recent aircraft incursions and Xi's calls for reunification by saying, "Nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us." She explained that this path outlined by Xi under the "one country, two systems" framework provides "neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people."