Taiwan says it won't rely on others for defence

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen attends a ceremony for delivery of an amphibious landing dock in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, on Sept 30, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON - Taiwan won't rely on others for its defence, President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday, while welcoming a US commitment to the democratically governed island's security amid what she called Chinese encroachment on its sovereignty.

Ms Tsai's remarks, pre-recorded and delivered to a US audience at a forum in Washington, come after US President Joe Biden pledged in September to defend Taiwan in the event of any "unprecedented attack" by China.

In her address to the Washington-based Global Taiwan Institute think tank, Ms Tsai thanked the Biden administration and the US Congress for "upholding the US commitment to Taiwan's security" and for recent US military arms sales.

"But we will not depend on others to come to our own defence," Ms Tsai said.

"That is why I want to reiterate that Taiwan is fully committed to protecting our security and maintaining our democratic way of life. We're also working to adapt our defence strategy to the changing threats we face."

Though the White House has said Mr Biden's pledge did not signify a change in US policy, critics argue he may have undercut - intentionally or not - a US stance of not taking a position on Taiwan's independence.

China, which views Taiwan as its own territory, mounted large-scale military drills to display its anger over an August visit there by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Chinese military activities have continued since then, though at a much reduced level, and Chinese military aircraft are routinely crossing the median line in the Taiwan Strait, which had for years acted as an unofficial barrier between the two sides.

Taiwan, which strongly objects to China's claims, reported on Wednesday that eight Chinese fighters flew across the median line.

Ms Tsai said those operations "encroach on Taiwan's sovereignty and threaten peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region".

"We know from history and current events that threats against any one country or region translate directly and indirectly to increasing threats against its neighbours," she said.

Remote video URL

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.