During his speech to the presidential office in the capital Taipei, Tsai warned that Taiwan faces the “most complex situation” in the past 72 years since the end of the Chinese civil war.
“Those who forget their heritage, betray their homeland and seek to divide the country will have no result,” Xi said. He also reiterated calls for Taipei to unite with Beijing under a “one country, two systems” model, similar to that used in Hong Kong – but generally opposed by Taiwan.
In response, Tsai said on Sunday that Taiwan hoped for “an easing of cross-Strait relations” and would not act “in a hurry,” but stressed “that there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will give in to the pressure.
“This is because the path China has mapped out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people.”
Tsai added that Taiwan’s stance on cross-strait relations remained unchanged.
“Maintaining the status quo is our position, and we will do everything possible to prevent the status quo from being unilaterally changed,” she said.
Taiwan and mainland China have been ruled separately since a civil war ended more than seven decades ago, in which defeated nationalists fled to Taipei.
However, Beijing regards Taiwan as an inseparable part of its territory, even though the Chinese Communist Party has never ruled the democratic island.
In his speech, Tsai introduced Taiwan as being at the forefront of the battle between democracy and authoritarianism, echoing the theme of this year’s celebrations – “a democratic alliance, making friends around the world “.
“At this moment, free and democratic countries have been alerted to the expansion of authoritarianism, and Taiwan is at the forefront of the line of defense of other democracies,” she said, after a statement. morning of musical and dance performances.
The ceremony, held outside the presidential office in Taipei, brought together hundreds of people, including members of the public and foreign guests – a lower turnout than in previous years due to concerns about Covid.
On Sunday, the main roads in the Taiwanese capital were lined with national flags. The celebration also saw the largest national flag ever made flown over the crowd by a helicopter, as the national anthem was performed at the start of the ceremony.
As part of the celebrations, the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense announced that it will display four types of domestic missiles, including the Thunderbolt 2000 multiple rocket launcher, medium-range Sky Sword II and Sky Bow III, as well as missiles. cruise ship Hsiung Feng II and III. .
During the parade, however, the audience did not see the actual missiles as the military trucks drove past the stage.
The incursions did not violate Taiwan’s sovereign airspace, which stretches 12 nautical miles from its coast. The United States Federal Aviation Administration defines an ADIZ as “a designated area of airspace” where a country “requires immediate and positive identification, location and control of air traffic” to protect its national security.
Last weekend, the US State Department issued a statement calling on China “to end its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan.”
“The United States is very concerned about the provocative military activity of the People’s Republic of China near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations and undermines regional peace and stability,” the spokesperson said. of the US State Department Ned Price. “The United States’ commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry subsequently criticized the United States for making “irresponsible remarks”, adding that the United States had “seriously undermined the one-China principle”.
Despite the constant military threat, analysts pointed out that Taiwan has steadily expanded its international presence in recent years. Last Thursday, Tsai welcomed former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and a group of French senators to Taipei, as she pledged to deepen collaborations with “freedom-loving democracies” around the world.
“It’s a balancing act,” said J. Michael Cole, Taipei-based senior researcher at Global Institute Taiwan. “Taiwan has seized the opportunity in recent years to expand its international space … we have seen it with the United States in recent years, but more and more other democracies – large and small – are also willing to question what comes from a few years ago, impassable red lines had been defined by Beijing. ”
For example, Lithuania announced in July that it would allow Taipei to open a new representative office under the name “Taiwan” – despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations with the autonomous island. Beijing strongly opposed the move, and China and Lithuania subsequently recalled their ambassadors as relations deteriorated.
Sunday’s military parade is an unprecedented show of force to mark Taiwan National Day, with the aim of “showing the determination, responsibility and obligation of the national army in the defense of Taiwan,” the National Army said. Ministry of National Defense of the island in a statement.
“In terms of organizing an attack on Taiwan, they currently have the capacity. [China] has to pay the price, ”he said, adding that the price will drop over the next four years.
Chang Yan-ting, a former deputy commander of the Taiwan Air Force, told CNN he believed the missile exposure was related to a recent proposal to increase spending on the island’s defense. The Department of Defense last month proposed an additional US $ 8.7 billion over the next five years to modernize weapons, including the development of new missiles.
Chang said that the Sunday parade was likely aimed at the domestic public to rally support for increased military spending, adding that the development of long-range and mobile missiles would be an important part for Taiwan to strengthen its asymmetric warfare capabilities.
“The best weapon to increase our precision strike capabilities is to develop missiles,” he said, as they can be effective in targeting airports and ports in military conflict.
“We cannot control whether or not the Chinese Communist Party has the capacity to attack Taiwan, but we can control and make sure that it does not have the motivation to do so,” Chang added. “We have to be able to defend ourselves against the first wave of attacks – whether it’s for half a month, a month or two months, then we can wait for help from the international world.”
CNN’s Wayne Chang and Nectar Gan contributed.