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In New Year’s speech, Taiwan president warns China against ‘military adventurism’

China claims democratically governed Taiwan as its own
territory and has increased military and diplomatic pressure in the past two
years to assert its sovereignty claims.

“We must remind the Beijing authorities to not misjudge
the situation and to prevent the internal expansion of ‘military
adventurism’,” Tsai said on Saturday in her New Year’s speech, broadcast
live on Facebook.

Taiwan says it is an independent country and has repeatedly
vowed to defend its freedom and democracy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his New Year address on
Friday that the complete unification of “the motherland” was an
aspiration shared by people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

On Saturday, after Tsai’s speech, Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson
of the Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing, said: “We are willing 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 measures.”

The pursuit of independence will only throw Taiwan into a
“deep chasm” and bring about “profound catastrophe”, Zhu
added.

In recent months, Beijing has sent repeated air missions
over the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan has said it will not give in to threats.

“The military is definitely not an option for solving
cross-strait disagreements. Military conflicts would impact economic stability,”
Tsai said.

To ease tension in the region, both Taipei and Beijing must
“work hard to take care of people’s livelihoods and calm the hearts of the
people” in order to find peaceful solutions to problems together, she
said.

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Tsai also said Taiwan would 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 the pro-democracy media
outlet Stand News “made people worry even more about human rights and
freedom of speech in Hong Kong”.

“We will hold fast to our sovereignty, uphold the
values ​​of freedom and democracy, defend territorial sovereignty and national
security, and maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region,” Tsai
said.

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