Taiwan president warns Beijing against 'military aggression'

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday said China's military ambitions were becoming more apparent and tension between Taiwan and the mainland must not be resolved through military force.

As the commander of Taiwan's Armed Forces, Tsai said she was giving herself as one of the most important duties the strengthening of the country's defense capabilities and the protection of its security.

Tsai made the comments during a year-end press conference held for the first time at Taiwan's weapons research and development facility, the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology.

"China's military activities don't only impact the situation in the Taiwan Strait, but also in all of East Asia".

Tsai, who recently accused China's military of causing military "instability" in the region, has come under increasing pressure from China since she took office early a year ago. This is the most gratifying thing since I've become president.

"Building our own defences will no longer be a slogan, but the daily task we must fully realise".

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During an October visit to Hawaii, Tsai announced that a 2 or possibly 3 percent increase in defense spending would be implemented in the near future. Taiwan is a top buyer of United States weapons, having purchased more than $60 billion's worth in the last 25 years. Taiwan is well armed, mostly with US hardware, but has been seeking to purchase more high-tech equipment from Washington to defend itself from China.

But the president also offered reassurance that her government would not do anything that might provoke Beijing or lead to a worsening in cross-strait ties.

China suspects Tsai, from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party, wants to push for the self-ruled island's formal independence, a red line for Beijing, which considers Taiwan a wayward province and sacred Chinese territory.

Beijing in the past referred to the exercises as routine and told Taiwan (and Japan, which also had its airspace buzzed) to "get used to it". On Friday, she warned China not to use military aggression and pledged to amp up defence for Taiwan.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) carried out 16 drills near the self-governed island in the past year, said Taiwan's defense ministry in a white paper this week.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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