Taiwan president calls for international support to defend democracy

Chinese President Xi Jinping who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission said the armed forces must devise strategies for the new era and take on responsibilities for preparing and waging war

Chinese President Xi Jinping who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission said the armed forces must devise strategies for the new era and take on responsibilities for preparing and waging war

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen vowed on Saturday to defend the self-ruled island's democracy and way of life, amid renewed tension with giant neighbour China, which threatens to bring Taiwan under its rule by force.

The remarks come amid a tense trade standoff with the USA and just days after Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen rejected President's Xi's call of Taiwan's re-unification with China. Xi, the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao, reiterated in his speech that Beijing would use force if necessary to prevent Taiwan from seeking formal independence.

Taipei is willing to enter discussions with the government in Beijing as long as China sets no preconditions, Tsai said.

"At a time when we are exhausting efforts to avoid provocation and miscommunication, China's actions are unhelpful and contrary to democratic practices", she said in a briefing with foreign media on Saturday.

Taiwan became a self-governed island in 1949 following a bloody civil war, though it is still officially considered the Republic of China.

The schism is one of profound geopolitical importance.

"Right now, Taiwan is coming to terms with a deteriorating military".

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Tsai said China's increasingly muscular rhetoric towards Taiwan was a test of whether democratic allies would protect each other.

"If the global community does not speak out for and support Taiwan while it is facing such a situation, we have to ask which country will be next". He said this could be made possible by adopting the "one country, two systems" model-the model used for Hong Kong after sovereignty was handed from Britain to China in 1997.

Xi has been ramping up pressure on Tsai's administration over her refusal to accept the so-called 1992 consensus - a vague notion, accepted by Tsai's predecessor, that posits that Taiwan and China are part of the same country, with each side allowed its own interpretation of what that China is.

In response, President Tsai said on January 2, that Taiwan had never and would not accept the position that the Chinese communist party has a legitimate right to rule over Taiwan, stressing that cross-strait talks must be handled on a government-by-government basis.

Taiwan's livestock exports have in the past been hammered by disease outbreaks from the mainland.

"I urge the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to intervene and call on countries in the region to engage in outbreak prevention", Tsai said.

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