President Tsai Ing-wen calls for increased deterrence against China

President Tsai Ing-wen emphasized Taiwan’s need to fortify deterrence against China, citing the significant costs of any potential takeover and stressing the importance of regional partnerships for collective security.

In an interview with BBC, President Tsai Ing-wen emphasised the imperative for Taiwan to bolster its deterrence capabilities in the face of escalating threats from China. Tsai underscored the significant costs associated with any potential attempt by China to annex Taiwan, emphasising the need for Taiwan to increase the costs of such actions.

Over recent years, President Tsai has prioritized enhancing Taiwan’s defence posture, implementing military reforms, promoting domestic arms production, and augmenting the defence budget, which has surged to NT$606.8 billion (US$18.85 billion). Tsai highlighted the substantial strengthening of Taiwan’s military capabilities compared to eight years prior, asserting that the investment in military capacity has been unprecedented.

Tsai also emphasized the importance of regional partnerships in forming a collective deterrence against Chinese aggression. She noted the alertness of other countries in the region, some of which have conflicts with China, particularly in the South China Sea. Tsai reiterated that the threat posed by China extends beyond Taiwan and is a concern for the entire region.

Regarding sovereignty, Tsai reiterated that Taiwan is already an independent nation, dismissing the need for a referendum or a formal declaration of independence. She emphasized Taiwan’s autonomy in decision-making, governance, and military affairs, asserting that Taiwan possesses all the essential elements of a sovereign state.

In recent years, Chinese military activity and grey zone tactics around Taiwan have intensified. Chinese coast guard vessels have been observed entering prohibited or restricted waters around Taiwan’s Kinmen and Matsu islands, signalling Beijing’s assertiveness in the region.