The self-ruled island has faced increased warplanes and sea intrusions from China under Tsai’s two terms as president – China sees Taiwan as its territory to be taken one day, by force if needed.
Tsai – who denies that Taiwan is part of China – said that during her time in office, residents have shown the world “Taiwan’s resolve to defend itself”.
“The people of Taiwan are calm and not violent, rational and not reckless, in the face of China’s civil attacks and military threats,” she said Saturday, the last day of her seventh year as president.
“War is not an option, and neither side can change the status quo in a non-peaceful way,” she said. “We will not be aggressive, provocative and we will certainly not give in to pressure.”
Tsai’s speech comes as Taiwan prepares for its next presidential election, to take place in January 2024. The vote is widely seen as a test of Tsai’s management of Taiwan’s ties with China – which has shunned her ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for talks because it considers her a separatist.
Tsai, 66, will not run for election because of the island’s term limits.