At noon on August 21, President Tsai Ing-wen issued a major statement on the termination of diplomatic relations with El Salvador. A translation of the president's remarks follows:
As a member of the international community, Taiwan is entitled to its place in the world, and engage with the world. Twenty-three million Taiwanese, like people in other nations, have the right to equality, freedom, independent sovereignty, and dignity. This is our position, and an axiomatic truth.
Just now, we terminated diplomatic relations with El Salvador. We have known about this situation for some time. During this period, we have done everything possible and undertaken extensive diplomatic efforts. We have also worked with our international allies, hoping to prevent El Salvador from becoming a battlefield in a cross-strait diplomatic war. Regrettably, China's government has been unrelenting and repeatedly exerted pressure, using the severance of diplomatic relations with El Salvador to crush the will of the Taiwanese people to embrace the world.
The severance of diplomatic ties is not an isolated incident. These are all part of a series of diplomatic and military acts of coercion. That includes sending military aircraft to encircle Taiwan, forcing international airlines to change their designation for Taiwan, depriving Taichung City of its right to host the East Asian Youth Games, and the recent 85°C café incident. China has never loosened its grip. Its suppression has only become all-pervasive.
Today's China is not only a threat to cross-strait peace. China's actions around the world—whether interfering in other countries' internal affairs, or undermining the international market order—have already caused serious global instability. We must remind the international community once again that this is not just Taiwan's problem. The situation is urgent and leaves no room for appeasement!
The facts make it clear that cross-strait issues no longer involve just the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. They are also regional issues. Throughout Asia, China's ambition is to challenge, and even replace the international order led by traditional powers. With increasingly complex trade disputes looming, China is now increasing pressure on Taiwan to underscore its regional influence and power. The force of China's offensive against Taiwan sovereignty is unprecedented.
I want to tell everyone that China's demands and actions have crossed the bottom line for all of Taiwan's major political parties. Now is not the time to compare cross-strait policies. Now is the time to come together as one, and join forces to defend the shared bottom line of our national sovereignty.
Undermining our conduct of diplomatic relations in the name of the Republic of China (Taiwan) violates that bottom line. Pressuring our diplomatic allies to sever ties with the Republic of China (Taiwan) encroaches on our sovereignty.
The existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan) is the status quo. It is the greatest common denominator, and the foundation of unity among Taiwan's people. Our unity sends a clear message to China, so they won't misjudge the bottom line of Taiwan's people, or indulge in wishful thinking that they can sow discord between different political parties and political figures.
Over the past two years, the people of Taiwan have proven to the world that threats will not force Taiwanese to give up freedom and democracy, or abandon our determination to contribute to the international community. In the future, we will continue to appeal to like-minded countries to join us in combatting China's international conduct, which is spinning out of control. We will also call on our diplomatic allies to cherish their long-standing friendship with the Republic of China (Taiwan), and our contributions to their substantive development.
I want to emphasize again that the more we are suppressed, the more we must unite! The more we are suppressed, the more we must go out into the world! At the airport last night, I told everyone that Taiwan will not bow to pressure. Pressure will only make us stronger and more unified, and strengthen our determination to engage with the world. We have never succumbed to pressure in the past, and now, we will overcome any and all difficulties because we are united as one.
Also attending the press conference were Vice President Chen Chien-jen, Premier Lai Ching-te (賴清德), Secretary-General to the President Chen Chu (陳菊), National Security Council Secretary-General David T. Lee (李大維), Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), and Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council Chen Ming-Tong (陳明通).