HomeTrendingPeace comes from strength: Taiwan president defies China at war memorial

Peace comes from strength: Taiwan president defies China at war memorial

As she paid a rare visit to a frontline island next to China on Wednesday to commemorate a significant military clash with Chinese forces, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen warned that maintaining peace requires a strong defence.

Despite significant protests from the Taipei government, China has increased military activities in an effort to compel democratically-governed Taiwan to recognise Beijing’s sovereignty.

For the 65th anniversary of the beginning of the second Taiwan Strait Crisis, Tsai lay a wreath and bowed her head in reverence at a memorial park on Kinmen island, which lies less than 2 kilometres from Chinese-controlled territory.

“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.

It was during this crisis that Taiwanese forces last engaged China on a significant basis.

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

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

Chinese forces bombarded Kinmen and the Taiwan-controlled Matsu islands further up the coast for more than a month starting in August 1958 in an effort to subjugate them. This bombardment included naval and aerial warfare.

With assistance from the United States, which delivered military supplies including sophisticated Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles, Taiwan retaliated at the time. This gave Taiwan a technological advantage.

Taiwan celebrates August 23 every year as the day it successfully repelled the Chinese onslaught after the crisis ended in a standstill.

It was Tsai’s third trip as president to Kinmen, having previously travelled there in 2020 with the de facto U.S. ambassador to Taipei. This trip was made in honour of the anniversary.

Kinmen, formerly known as Quemoy in English, is now a well-liked tourist attraction despite the fact that Taiwan still has a sizable military presence there and that the island is littered with the remains of subterranean bunkers from previous battles.

Since the defeated Republic of China government withdrew to Taipei in 1949 after losing a civil war with Mao Zedong’s communists, Taiwan has ruled Kinmen and Matsu.