Taiwan president says island does not seek military confrontation

Taiwan does not seek military confrontation but will do whatever it takes to defend its freedom and democratic way of life, President Tsai Ing-wen has said, amid a rise in tensions with China that has sparked alarm around the world.

Taiwan, claimed by Beijing as its own territory, reported nearly 150 Chinese air force aircraft flew into its air defence zone over a four-day period beginning last Friday, China’s National Day.

The sorties now appear to have ended.

Taiwan has complained for more than a year of such activities, which it views as “grey zone warfare”, designed to wear out Taiwan’s armed forces and test their ability to respond.

“Taiwan does not seek military confrontation,” Tsai told a security forum in Taipei on Friday.

“It hopes for a peaceful, stable, predictable and mutually beneficial coexistence with its neighbours. But Taiwan will also do whatever it takes to defend its freedom and democratic way of life.”

China says it is acting to protect its security and sovereignty and has blamed the United States, Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier, for the current tensions.

Tsai told the forum that prosperity in the Indo-Pacific, where there are many opportunities, needs a peaceful, stable and transparent environment.

“But this also brings new tensions and systemic contradictions that could have a devastating effect on international security and the global economy if they are not handled carefully.”

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