China’s ‘rise to power’ is Taiwan’s ‘biggest challenge’, new president says

China’s ‘rise to power’ is Taiwan’s ‘biggest challenge’, new president says
China’s ‘rise to power’ is Taiwan’s ‘biggest challenge’, new president says

Beijing “aims the annexation and elimination of the Republic of China for its cause of great national rebirth,” Lai Ching-te warned students at Taiwan’s military academy.

Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te warned students at Taiwan’s military academy on Sunday that their “biggest challenge” was to face “the strong rise of China”which, according to him, considers “elimination” of the island governed autonomously as a national cause. Speaking at the Taiwanese Military Academy in Kaohsiung (southern Taiwan), Lai Ching-te said his teachers and students must recognize “the challenges and missions of the new era”.

“The biggest challenge is dealing with the rise of China, which has destroyed the status quo in the Taiwan Strait”, said the Taiwanese president who was speaking on the occasion of the centenary of the school’s founding. Beijing “aims for the annexation and elimination of the Republic of China for its cause of great national rebirth”Lai Ching-te added, referring to Taiwan by its official name on the island.

Protect Taiwan

For the Taiwanese president inaugurated in May “the most important mission is to courageously shoulder the heavy responsibility and great task of protecting Taiwan and safeguarding peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait”. The academy was founded in 1924 in Guangzhou, southern China. She moved to Kaohsiung after the Nationalists were defeated on the mainland and took refuge on the island in 1949.

Read alsoThe many challenges of William Lai, the new president of Taiwan

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have increased since the May 20 inauguration of Lai Ching-te. Beijing insists that the autonomously governed island is part of its territory and threatens to reconquer it by force if necessary. At the end of May in particular, China carried out two days of major military maneuvers around Taiwan, mobilizing ships and military planes loaded with live ammunition, claiming that it was a “severe punishment” against the “separatists”.

Previously Beijing, which considers Lai Ching-te as a “dangerous separatist”had considered that his inauguration speech was akin to a “Confession of Taiwanese Independence”. In his speech, Lai Ching-te pledged to defend Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, while calling for dialogue with China, broken since 2016. Like his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen, Lai Ching-te maintains that Taiwan does not need a formal declaration of independence – a red line for China – because it is “already independent”. In recent years, Chinese leaders have hardened their rhetoric to suggest that “unification” was “inevitable”.

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