Taiwan

On frontline island with China, Taiwan president says peace comes through strength

Reuters

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

On frontline island with China, Taiwan president says peace comes through strength

A view of Taiwan flags and flowers placed at the graves of fallen soldiers during a ceremony commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis, in Kinmen, Taiwan August 23, 2023.

REUTERS/Ann Wang

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen Tsai lays a wreath and bows her head in respect at a memorial park on Kinmen island, at its closest less than 2 km away from Chinese-controlled territory, for the 65th anniversary of the start of the second Taiwan Strait crisis

KINMEN, Taiwan – Maintaining peace needs a powerful defense, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Wednesday, August 24, as she made a rare visit to a frontline island located right next to China, to mark the anniversary of a key military clash with Chinese forces.

China has stepped up military activity to try and force democratically-governed Taiwan to accept Beijing’s sovereignty, despite strong objections from the government in Taipei.

Tsai laid a wreath and bowed her head in respect at a memorial park on Kinmen island, at its closest less than 2 km (1.2 miles) away from Chinese-controlled territory, for the 65th anniversary of the start of the second Taiwan Strait crisis.

“Our position on maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is very firm,” Tsai told veterans at a lunch, adding that there would be no Taiwan today if they had not prevailed during the crisis in 1958.

The crisis was the last time Taiwanese forces joined battle with China on a large scale.

“However, to maintain peace, we must first strengthen ourselves,” Tsai added.

“We must thus continue to implement national defense reforms, promote defense self-sufficiency, and continuously improve the combat power and resilience of national defense.”

In August 1958, Chinese forces began more than a month of bombardment of Kinmen, along with the Taiwan-controlled Matsu archipelago further up the coast, including naval and air battles, seeking to force them into submission.

Taiwan fought back at the time with support from the United States, which sent military equipment like advanced Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles, giving Taiwan a technological edge.

The crisis ended in a stalemate, and Taiwan observes August 23 every year as the date it fended off the Chinese attack.

It was only Tsai’s third visit as president to Kinmen to mark the anniversary, following a visit in 2020 when she was accompanied by the de facto US ambassador to Taipei.

Formerly called Quemoy in English, Kinmen today is a popular tourist destination, though remnants of past fighting such as underground bunkers scatter the island, and Taiwan maintains a significant military presence.

Taiwan has controlled Kinmen and Matsu since the defeated Republic of China government fled to Taipei in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong’s communists. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Loading
Download the Rappler App!