China claims that Taiwan is democratically controlled as its own territory, and has increased military and diplomatic pressure to assert its sovereignty claims.
Taiwan’s president has urged China to curb its “military adventurism” as tensions between the two sides reach their highest level in years.
Beijing has increased military and diplomatic pressure on Taiwan since Tsai Ing-wen came to power in 2016, as she rejects the view that the island is Chinese territory.
China claims that Taiwan is democratically controlled as its own territory and has increased military and diplomatic pressure over the past two years to enforce its sovereignty claims.
“We must remind the Beijing authorities not to misjudge the situation and to prevent the internal expansion of ‘military adventure’,” Tsai said in her New Year’s speech on Saturday.
Chinese fighter jets have made a historically large number of incursions into Taiwan’s air defense zone in recent months.
Tsai added that authorities in Beijing “should stop the spread of military adventure within their ranks”.
“The use of military means is absolutely not an option to resolve the differences between our two sides.”
She said that in order to alleviate tensions in the region, both Taipei and Beijing “must work hard to care for people’s livelihoods and calm the hearts of the people” to work together to find peaceful solutions to problems.
In his New Year’s speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared that “the complete reunification of our motherland is a people-shared pursuit” in both China and Taiwan.
On Saturday, following Tsai’s speech, Zhu Fenglian, spokesman for the Taiwan Business Office in Beijing, said: “We are prepared to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification.
“But if ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces continue to provoke and coerce, or even cross any red line, we will have to take decisive action.”
The pursuit of independence will only throw Taiwan into a “deep chasm” and cause “deep disaster”, Zhu added.
In October last year, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense warned that military tensions with China were at their highest in four decades after a record number of Chinese jets entered its air defense zone.
Beijing has also intensified efforts in recent years to isolate Taiwan on the international stage.
It regards any formal declaration of an “independent” Taiwan as a provocation and has repeatedly threatened consequences for countries that support Taipei in its self-determination.
Beijing has urged Taiwan’s dwindling diplomatic allies to take sides.
Most recently, Nicaragua recognized Beijing over Taipei, and China opened its embassy in the Central American country on Friday.
In her speech, Tsai also said Taiwan will continue to monitor the situation in Hong Kong, adding that interference in the recent legislative election and the arrests this week of senior staff at pro-democracy media outlet Stand News concerned about human rights and freedom of speech in Hong Kong ”.
“We will uphold our sovereignty, uphold the values of freedom and democracy, defend territorial sovereignty and national security, and uphold peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Tsai said.