As tensions rise between Beijing and Taipei after the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party swept to power in this year’s general election, the newly sworn-in President Tsai Ing-wen called on Taiwan’s forces to stay alert and defend the island.
According to Focus Taiwan, Tsai flew to two military bases in eastern Taiwan earlier today for her debut inspection of troops as commander in chief since becoming the island’s first female president on May 20.
“I am the commander in chief. Beginning today, the honor and disgrace of the military is also my honor and disgrace. I will join with you, devoting every effort to let the people have pride in the military,” Tsai said. “I want to tell you all, as well as all people of the nation, that every day in the future, I will stand by the side of the military, promoting reforms and defending (our) home and country.”
Tsai used the inspection to commit her government to improving management of troops and living conditions on military installations in a bid to attract more young people to consider the armed forces as an attractive career option. She also pledged to provide top brass with more strategic clarity and careful policy planning.
Since being sworn into office last week, Tsai has vowed to reduce Taiwan’s dependence on the mainland. In a move which infuriated Beijing, she frequently referred to the island as a country and refused to accept that the two sides of the strait were part of “One China.”
Beijing has since looked to exert pressure on Tsai and the DPP, threatening to suspend communications unless she acknowledge the “1992 Consensus,” an understanding of sorts that both the PRC and the ROC are part of the same China.
Xinhua News later ran an editorial which claimed that Tsai was extremist and prone to erratic behavior because she was a single woman without “the emotional burden of love.” It was later removed after facing a firestorm of criticism both at home and abroad.