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Taiwan not seeking conflict escalation but will defend sovereignty: Tsai

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President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during her visit to the ROC Air Force Combatant Command on Thursday. Photo courtesy of Presidential Office

Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) The military threat posed by China remains high, and while Taiwan does not seek to escalate that danger or provoke disputes, it will resolutely defend its sovereignty and national security, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Thursday.

Tsai made the remarks during a visit to the ROC Air Force Combatant Command, where she received a military briefing and spoke by video link to members of the Air Defense and Missile Command and the Air Force posted around Taiwan, according to a Presidential Office press release.

During her speech, Tsai thanked the Air Force on behalf of the Taiwanese people for its round-the-clock protection of the nation's skies during China's recent live-fire military drills around the island.

She said that while the military threat posed by China remains high, Taiwan "will not escalate" the conflict and "will not provoke disputes."

Nevertheless, "we will resolutely defend our sovereignty and our national security and hold the line of defense for democracy and freedom," she said.

The mission of the armed forces, Tsai said, is to "prepare for war but not seek it, to respond to war (if it breaks out) and not retreat from it."

Although the military's burden has become even greater amid the recent "provocations" by China, the Taiwanese people are united in their support of the armed forces, she said.

Tensions between Taiwan and China have soared recently to their highest level in decades, as China has been conducting live-fire and other military exercises around Taiwan, following a visit to Taipei by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week.

Taiwan's Ministry of Defense reported that as of 5 p.m. Thursday, it had detected 21 Chinese warplanes and six Chinese Navy vessels operating in various parts of the Taiwan Strait.

Eleven of the aircraft -- six Sukhoi SU-30 fighter jets, four Shenyang J-11 fighter jets and a Xi'an JH-7 fighter bomber -- had crossed the median line of Taiwan Strait, the ministry said, adding that it was monitoring the situation with combat air patrols, naval vessels and land-based missile systems.


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