If democratic Taiwan fell to the communist Chinese regime, there would be “catastrophic“ consequences for regional peace and democracy, President Tsai Ing-wen warned amid a dramatic escalation in tensions across the Taiwan Strait.
“Taiwan is on the frontlines of the global contest between liberal democracy and authoritarianism,” Tsai wrote in an essay for Foreign Affairs published on Oct. 5. Her comments come a day after a record number of China planes entered its air defense zone.
On Oct. 4, the Ministry of National Defense spotted 56 Chinese air force planes, pushing the total to 149 in four straight days. The stepped-up incursion by Chinese aircraft began on Oct. 1, the anniversary to mark the Chinese Communist Party’s rule.
The communist regime claims Taiwan as its province and has vowed to take it by force if necessary. However, democratic Taiwan, a de facto independent country, has its own military, democratically-elected government, and constitution.
If Taiwan were to fall, “it would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy,” Tsai wrote.
She added that Taiwan does not seek military confrontation and expects “peaceful, stable, predictable, and mutually beneficial coexistence with its neighbors.”
“But if its democracy and way of life are threatened, Taiwan will do whatever it takes to defend itself,” Tsai noted.
Meanwhile, Premier Su Tseng-chang said on Tuesday that Taiwan needs to “strengthen itself.”
“Only then will countries that want to annex Taiwan not dare to easily resort to force,” Su told reporters when asked about recent intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army. “Only when we help ourselves can others help us.”
In the face of “severe threats” coming from the communist regime, Taiwan proposed an extra $8.7 billion for national defense over the next five years, which the parliament will review on Wednesday.
So far this year, Taiwan recorded more than 600 Chinese military aircraft in its air defense zone, compared to last year’s 380 incursions, according to the submitted report.
In September, Taiwan had agreed to boost its 2022 defense budget to a record high of $13.4 billion in response to Beijing’s rising military expenditure, which climbed to $209 billion.
An August defense report warned that China’s air force could both “paralyze” the self-ruled island’s defenses and fully monitor its deployment.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a Monday statement that “the Chinese Communist Party’s aggressive behavior is intended to intimidate Taiwan and send a message to the rest of the free world.”
“If Beijing’s recklessness is not met with international condemnation, Xi Jinping will think he has a green light for further aggression,” Rubio said. “President Joe Biden must work with our allies to ensure the People’s Republic of China respects the status quo and the sovereign territory of Taiwan and its neighbors.”