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Defending Taiwan requires national unity: Tsai says on military anniversary

ROC Central News Agency

08/23/2021 09:17 PM

Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) Defending Taiwan against potential enemy invasion cannot be accomplished by one party alone, it requires a joint effort, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said Monday as she commemorated the 63rd anniversary of the Artillery Bombardment of Kinmen, also called the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis.

During an inspection tour of an Air Force Defense and Artillery Command base in Taipei early Monday, Tsai said the Aug. 23 Artillery Bombardment of the outlying island county of Kinmen in 1958 is a perfect example of how only through national unity can the people of Taiwan fend off Chinese invasion.

It also showed the world Taiwan's determination to defend itself, she said.

On Aug. 23, 1958, nine years after the Republic of China (R.O.C.) government relocated from mainland China to Taiwan during the Chinese civil war, Chinese communist forces launched an attack on the R.O.C. military in Kinmen, which lies less than 10 kilometers off the southeast coast of China.

Over the next 44 days, 475,000 artillery shells were fired at Kinmen in an attempt to take over the island, but the R.O.C. forces held off the Chinese bombardment, according to Taiwan's historical records.

The Aug. 23 Artillery Bombardment of 1958 marked the beginning of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis.

According to government data, 439 military personnel were killed and 1,911 injured in the bombardment. In addition, 80 civilians lost their lives and 221 were injured, the data showed.

In her address, the president said as the nation marks the 63rd anniversary of the battle, she chose to visit the Air Force Defense and Artillery Command because the command is an integral part of the nation's defense against airstrikes from enemy forces.

As the nation remembers the battle, Tsai said her administration has continued to demonstrate its resolution to defend Taiwan by expanding its indigenous defense capacity, building its own military aircraft, ships and submarines.

Her government also continues to improve benefits for military personnel including regular military pay increases to boost morale as a strong self-defense is determined by the capability of its soldiers, according to Tsai.

In addition to visiting the command, Tsai also inspected the Defense Ministry's Armament Bureau Materiel Production Center in Taipei on Monday. However, she did not visit Kinmen this year for the anniversary.

Tsai said she decided not to visit the outlying island county to avoid traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, her absence was criticized by Kinmen County Magistrate Yang Chen-wu (楊鎮浯) of the opposition Kuomintang (KMT), who said the no-show demonstrated a lack of respect for the people of Kinmen.

Since assuming office in May 2016, Tsai has twice visited Kinmen to mark the Aug. 23 anniversary, in 2019 and 2020.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Joseph Yeh)


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