Taiwan will celebrate the anniversary of the foundation of the Republic of China, a date known as the “double tenth”, on Saturday amid increasing pressure from Beijing.
All eyes will be on what President Tsai Ing-wen will say about cross-strait relations and the possible response from Beijing.
“Under Taiwan’s political system, national addresses usually touch on national politics, geopolitics and cross-strait relations,” said political commentator Tang Hsiang-lung.
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Since September 16, the People’s Liberation Army has sent dozens of warplanes into the island’s southwest air defence identification zone to step up pressure on Taiwan, Tang said.
The incursions reached a peak on September 18 and 19, when almost 40 fighters crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait, forcing the island’s exhausted air force to scramble its jets to shadow and disperse them. But since then the PLA has reduced the number of planes approaching the island to one a day.
Tang said the incursions were meant as a warning to the Tsai government. “The PLA is adopting a wait-and-see attitude,” he continued.
“If what she say is going to causes relations to deteriorate further, the PLA is expected to take strong action,” Tang warned.
Four years ago, in her inaugural speech Tsai, from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party, angered Beijing by refusing to accept the 1992 consensus – an understanding that the two sides agree there is only one-China but each can have its own interpretation of what that means.
The refusal prompted Beijing to suspend official exchanges with Taipei, stage a series of war games and start poaching the island’s remaining diplomatic allies.
Tsai was reelected president this year in a landslide victory local pundits said was due in a large part of her anti-Beijing policy and her opposition to President Xi Jinping’s suggestion that the “one country, two systems” model could be applied to the island.
“Tsai sternly rejected the model shortly after Xi made the proposal and during her re-election campaign, she used the Hong Kong example to convince Taiwanese voters that by accepting the proposal, Taiwan would face the same fate as Hongkongers,” said Wang Kung-yi, chairman of the Taiwan International Strategic Study Society, an independent think tank in Taipei.
Thousands of Hongkongers have been arrested since the start of a wave of anti-government protests last year and the introduction of a national security law on June 30 this year.
In her address, Tsai is expected to urge Beijing to stop intimidating Taiwan and allow cross-strait relations to develop peacefully.
Wang added that Tsai was also expected to speak about US-Taiwan ties and stress the importance of cooperating with Washington and bolstering the island’s defences against the mainland.
US-Taiwan relations have warmed considerably since Donald Trump came to power and adopted a policy of supporting the island as a counterweight to the Chinese mainland.
Wang said growing anti-Beijing sentiment, especially among young Taiwanese, meant it would be difficult for cross strait relations to return to the warmth seen under the previous president Ma Ying-jeou.
On October 10 we celebrate #Taiwan’s National Day & another year for our dynamic, democratic society. Although we faced great challenges this year, our people came together to meet them head on & propel Taiwan forward. This is yet another year we can be truly #ProudofTaiwan. pic.twitter.com/MzE30J3a8p
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) October 5, 2020
While the Taiwanese forces will remain on guard on Saturday against any potential attack from the People’s Liberation Army, the air force will conduct an aerial display that includes helicopters carrying a giant flag and F-16V fighter jets performing a flyover above the Presidential Office.
The celebrations will also feature a motorbike parade of military police, and a half-hour firework display in the southern city of Tainan in the evening.
In a recent tweet, Tsai said: “On October 10 we celebrate #Taiwan’s National Day & another year for our dynamic, democratic society. Although we faced great challenges this year, our people came together to meet them head on & propel Taiwan forward. This is yet another year we can be truly #ProudofTaiwan.”
More from South China Morning Post:
- Beijing blocking Wikipedia from United Nations intellectual property agency over Taiwan is resistance against ‘Western values’, analysts say
- No sign China is preparing attack on Taiwan – but we will be ready if they do: defence chief
- Taiwan lays to rest its former president, ‘Mr Democracy’ Lee Teng-hui
This article Mainland China casts long shadow over Taiwan’s ‘double tenth’ celebrations first appeared on South China Morning Post