'We won't let others have their way in our airspace', says Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in visit to island's military bases

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited the Hualien Air Base and the neighbouring Jiashan Air Base.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited the Hualien Air Base and the neighbouring Jiashan Air Base. PHOTO: TSAI ING-WEN/FACEBOOK

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen inspected two military bases in the island's eastern county of Hualien on Sunday (May 29), less than two weeks after taking charge as Taiwan's first pro-independence leader since 2008.

"As members of the Republic of China Air Force, we cannot let others have their way in our airspace," the 59-year-old said in a speech to soldiers and officers at the Hualien Air Base, according to a post on her official Facebook page.

Taiwan, which split from China in 1949 at the end of a civil war, calls itself the Republic of China, although most countries in the world recognise Beijing as the legitimate government of China.

"I'm here today not inspecting for the sake of inspection. I'm here to express my determination: I will stand together with the Republic of China military, each day and every day. We will carry out reforms; we will defend our home and country," said Ms Tsai.

"I am the commander in chief. Beginning today, the honour and disgrace of the military is also my honour and disgrace. I will join with you, devoting every effort to let the people have pride in the military," added Ms Tsai, Taiwan military's first female commander-in-chief. 

Ms Tsai travelled on the presidential jet, a Boeing 737, for the trip. It was her maiden flight on the aircraft.

She visited the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Hualien Air Base and the neighbouring Jiashan Air Base, the semi-official Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

 

Hualien Air Base is one of key combat bases of Taiwan's air force and an integral part of the force's annual tactical drill, noted CNA.

Jiashan base hosts flight and technical skill training programmes in peacetime, CNA said, citing the military. In the event of a war, it will be transformed into an air combat command centre. 

Taiwan split from China in 1949 after the Kuomintang forces lost a civil war to the Communists and fled to the island. Beijing has said it would reclaim the island by force if Taiwan formally declared independence.

Ahead of Ms Tsai's inauguration on May 20, China's military staged at least three landing exercises in the country's southeast which appeared to be Beijing's latest warnings to the chairwoman of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party to not step out of its red line.