President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that she would strive to defend every inch of the nation’s sovereignty, territory, democracy and freedom, and would not back down as long as she is in office.
She made the remarks while inspecting the air force’s 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, which she thanked for defending the nation’s airspace, after two Chinese J-11 fighter jets on Sunday crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
The wing dispatched five fighter jets to shadow two Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force jets and successfully held them off after a standoff that lasted more than 10 minutes.
The outstanding pilots of the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing took to the sky to intercept the Chinese jets at the earliest opportunity they had and effectively deterred their act of provocation, Tsai said.
Thanking the unit, the president said that the nation’s troops should “forcefully ” fend off any PLA vehicle or vessel that crosses the Taiwan Strait median line.
She also addressed personnel on duty on the first day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day holiday, thanking them for safeguarding the nation’s air space, so that people could go on vacation without feeling that their safety was at risk.
“All of you have showed the public that as long as you are here, they can rest assured that Taiwan’s air space would be safe,” she said.
The PLA’s repeated provocations in the air, at sea and on the Internet are not only attempt to change the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait, but also pose a threat to peace and security in the region, she said.
To safeguard the nation’s democracy and freedom and to maintain peace, all members of the three armed services have an ever-greater responsibility, she said, adding that they need to ensure “strong defense” at all times, to be ready to perform “mutilayered deterrence” at all times in line with the Ministry of National Defense’ overarching guideline.
The president encouraged members of the tactical wing to continue honing their skills, to aspire to become the pioneers of a “next-generation” air force under her guidance.
She later sat in the cockpit of an F-16V jet, where she was briefed on the jet’s features, before handing out cash gifts to some of the military personnel at the air base.
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