On the anniversary of Taiwan's founding, the island's president delivered a defiant address to her people standing firm against Chinese President Xi Jinping, vowing Taiwan would not "bow to pressure" from the mainland.
"Our position on cross-strait relations remains the same: neither our goodwill nor our commitments will change. We call for maintaining the status quo, and we will do our utmost to prevent the status quo from being unilaterally altered," said Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
"We hope for an easing of cross-strait relations and will not act rashly, but there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure," the leader said. "We will continue to bolster our national defense and demonstrate our determination to defend ourselves in order to ensure that nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us. This is because the path that China has laid out offers neither a free and democratic way of life for Taiwan, nor sovereignty for our 23 million people."
The address comes as China has taken a slow burn-style of escalation: state-controlled journals published a three-phase plan for invasion of the island, violations of Taiwan's Air Identification Zone have increased, and Xi Jinping has repeatedly called for the United States to cease military training exercises with Taiwanese forces and relinquish support for Taiwan.
As Chinese aircraft continue to brazenly violate Tawian's Air Identification Zone, Xi Jinping has commented that "reunification must be fulfilled," though he stopped short of explicitly endorsing military force to achieve that objective.
"National reunification by peaceful means best serves the interests of the Chinese nation as a whole, including our compatriots in Taiwan," said Xi, in his prepared remarks. "Those who forget their heritage, betray their motherland, and seek to split the country will come to no good end; they will be disdained by the people and condemned by history," he continued.
It remains to be seen how the United States will respond to renewed tensions along the Taiwan Strait. In a statement, the US State Department indicated it was "committed" to Taiwan and demanded China "cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan."