TAIPEI - Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen denounced China for its military intimation and influence operations in her New Year's address on Wednesday, saying a new anti-infiltration law will safeguard the self-ruled island's democratic institutions.
Tsai assured the public that the Anti-Infiltration Act, passed on the last day of the legislative term on Tuesday amid a boycott by opposition parties, is not intended to hinder normal exchanges with the mainland.
"We are against infiltration, not against exchanges," she said.
Seeking to protect Taiwan from China's beefed-up efforts to bring it into its fold, the legislature, controlled by Tsai's Democratic Progressive Party, has passed a slew of legal initiatives in response to her calls to build a legal "safety net for democracy."
The Anti-Infiltration Act, in particular, is seen as an attempt to thwart the threat of China interfering in the island's politics ahead of the Jan. 11 presidential election.
Over the past few years, Tsai said it has become clear that China's intimidation is aimed at forcing Taiwan to compromise on sovereignty, including the recent proposal of Chinese leader Xi Jinping to explore the "Taiwanese version of one country, two systems" framework.
"It is impossible for Taiwan to accept the arrangement of 'one country, two systems'," Tsai said, adding that the Hong Kong model of the framework is a proven failure as seen by the city's ongoing unrest.
Tsai urged Chinese authorities to recognize the existence of the Republic of China, the official name of Taiwan, and respect the values of democracy and freedom that its 23 million people hold dear.
She also called on Beijing to settle differences in a peaceful and equitable fashion and sit down for talks with Taiwan's popularly elected government and authorized institutions.
After the DPP came to power in Taipei in May 2016, Beijing cut off all government-to-government communications and ramped up its efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically.
Addressing the Taiwanese public, Tsai called for unity, asking citizens to realize that China is the one undermining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait and that Taiwan's sovereignty is bottom line insofar as cross-strait trade and economic interests are concerned.
She said citizens must also recognize that China is using the so-called "1992 consensus" -- a tacit understanding reached in that year by Taiwan's then-ruling KMT and the Chinese Communist Party that there is only "one China," with each side free to interpret what it means -- to hollow out the Republic of China.
Tsai does not recognize the "1992 consensus," saying it has been clearly defined by Beijing as "one country, two systems" with no room for interpretation.
Beijing has set recognition of the "1992 consensus" as a precondition for government-to-government dialogue, while it holds that the Republic of China, established in the mainland in 1911, ceased to exist after People's Republic of China was founded in 1949.
Taiwan and mainland China have been governed separately since they split amid a civil war in 1949. Since then, Beijing has regarded the island as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.