Taiwan will not bow to pressure by Beijing and will defend its democratic way of life, the island's President Tsai Ing-wen warned today, following a spike in incursions by Chinese warplanes into its air defence zone. Self-governed Taiwan's 23 million people live under the constant threat of invasion by authoritarian China , which views the island as its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary. 'The more we achieve, the greater the pressure we face from China,' Tsai said in a speech marking Taiwan's National Day on Sunday in the capital of Taipei, adding: 'Nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us.' She described Taiwan as 'standing on democracy's first line of defence'. 'We hope for an easing of… relations (with Beijing) and will not act rashly, but there should be absolutely no illusions that the Taiwanese people will bow to pressure,' she added. Her speech comes amid a rise in aggressive threats and provocative military action by China over Taiwanese airspace in recent days. Beijing views the island as an autonomous Chinese province and has long sought reunification though Taiwan sees itself as an independent state. The two sides have been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Kim Kardashian-West's SNL monologue Lord Helestine says UK 'running on borrowed time' amidst gas crisis Paedophile sends disturbing letter to the family of his victims Kwasi Kwartening discusses potential for gas outages this winter Lorry driver reverses over level crossing and rips falling barrier off Secret filming shows hounds being shot dead at hunting kennels UK gas crisis: Andy Mayer on the disastrous choice to abandon fracking Shocking footage of man with machete hitting cars in Manchester Trump to Republicans: Don't worry about being impeached Packham marches to Buckingham Palace asking to 'rewild royal land' Dayton Police drag paraplegic man from car by hair Kwasi Kwarteng smiles and ignores energy crisis questions Taiwan will not bow to pressure by Beijing and will defend its democratic way of life, the island's President Tsai Ing-wen warned today, following a spike in incursions by Chinese warplanes into its air defence zone 'The more we achieve, the greater the pressure we face from China,' Tsai said in a speech marking Taiwan's National Day on Sunday in the capital of Taipei. Pictured: military trucks and soldiers are paraded in the streets of Taipei on Sunday Taiwanese honor guards take part in a parade marking National Day in Taipei on Sunday amid heightened tensions with China The speech comes amid a rise in aggressive threats and provocative military action by China over Taiwanese airspace in recent days Taiwanese military vehicles take part in a national day parade in front of the Presidential Palace in Taipei on Sunday Military officers on armoured vehicles salute the President during a parade for the Double-Tenth National Day Celebration Ceremony A formation of airplanes fly during the national day celebration in Taipei, Taiwan, on Sunday Taiwanese F-16 fighter jets fly over during National Day celebrations in Taipei, Taiwan, on Sunday Tensions have risen to their highest in decades under Chinese President Xi Jinping, who broke off official communication with Taipei following Tsai's election five years ago and ramped up economic, diplomatic and military pressure. The latest flare-up has been a surge in flights by Chinese fighter jets and nuclear-capable bombers into Taiwan's air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in recent days. Some 150 Chinese warplanes breached Taiwan's airspace since Friday – a record number -, including 56 jets on Monday in a dramatic escalation of Chinese aggression against the self-governing democracy. Three Chinese planes, including two fighter jets, crossed into the zone on Sunday, according to Taiwan's defence ministry. Taiwan's ADIZ is a zone in which it requires all foreign aircraft to identify themselves and state their intentions. It is different to the island's sovereign airspace, which extends over a smaller area 12 nautical miles from its coast. Taipei said it scrambled fighters, broadcast radio warnings and activated missile defences in response. A short time later, the Chinese aircraft turned back. Adding to rising tensions, China on Saturday warned the US over its involvement in Taiwan and claimed the 'weak and cowardly' island authorities will accept reunification. An op-ed in state media outlet Global Times said the US would face 'unbearable' consequences for its military involvement in Taiwan and that American troops would be the first to be 'eliminated' in a Chinese 'invasion'. The piece also claimed Taiwanese authorities were likely 'to surrender [to reunification] in a few years or even a shorter period of time' or China would resolve the dispute 'by force'. The op-ed emerged just hours after President Xi declared in a speech that China harbours ambitions of a 'peaceful reunification' with the island but warned it 'must be realised, and will definitely be realised'. He said he favoured 'peaceful reunification' but his words come after months of increased military threats, including the recent surge in air incursions as well as heavily publicised military drills simulating an invasion of Taiwan. Last year, there were a record 380 sorties, or deployments. There have already been more than 600 this year. Kim Kardashian-West's SNL monologue Kim Kardashian West and Aidy Bryant 'switch places' on SNL Lord Helestine says UK 'running on borrowed time' amidst gas crisis Paedophile sends disturbing letter to the family of his victims Kwasi Kwartening discusses potential for gas outages this winter Lorry driver reverses over level crossing and rips falling barrier off Secret filming shows hounds being shot dead at hunting kennels UK gas crisis: Andy Mayer on the disastrous choice to abandon fracking Shocking footage of man with machete hitting cars in Manchester Trump to Republicans: Don't worry about being impeached Packham marches to Buckingham Palace asking to 'rewild royal land' Dayton Police drag paraplegic man from car by hair President Xi Jinping's renewed call for a merger comes amid a rise in aggressive threats and provocative military action over Taiwanese airspace in recent days. Above: Xi Jinping in Beijing on Saturday President Tsai, who is pictured giving a thumbs up during the parade, said in her speech: 'Nobody can force Taiwan to take the path China has laid out for us' Military officers riding motorcycles during the parade are pictured as a crowd of spectators look on in Taipei Taiwanese people take photos of helicopters hoisting large national flags flying over during a National Day parade in Taipei Beijing views the island as an autonomous Chinese province and has long sought reunification though Taiwan sees itself as an independent state. The two sides have been ruled separately since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 During Sunday's speech, Tsai reiterated her call for Beijing 'to engage in dialogue on the basis of parity' and said she supported maintaining the current status quo between the two neighbours Taiwanese soldiers raise flags on military vehicles during a national day parade in front of the Presidential Palace on Sunday The street is disinfected during the national day celebration in Taipei, Taiwan, by health workers who can be seen spraying the disinfectant whole sat in the back of trucks Taiwan's honorary guard stand in lines as they parade during the ceremony of Taiwan National Day on Sunday President Tsai, who has won two elections, is loathed by Beijing because she regards Taiwan as an 'already independent' country, not part of 'one China'. But she has also made no move to declare formal independence, something Beijing has long warned would be a 'red line' that would trigger an invasion. She has also made offers for talks with Beijing that have been rejected. During Sunday's speech, Tsai reiterated her call for Beijing 'to engage in dialogue on the basis of parity' and said she supported maintaining the current status quo between the two neighbours. But she warned what happens to Taiwan would have major regional and global repercussions. 'Every step we take will influence our world's future direction, and our world's future direction will likewise affect the future of Taiwan itself,' she said. Polling shows the vast majority of Taiwanese have no desire to be ruled by Beijing. Most favour maintaining the status quo although there is a growing Taiwanese nationalist sentiment, especially among younger people. China's crackdown in Hong Kong, a city Beijing said would be a model for how it would rule Taiwan, has also done little to endear Taiwanese to assurances that their way of life would continue under communist party rule. 'As a Taiwanese I don't think we can accept (reunification), just look at what happened in Hong Kong,' Hung Chen-lun, who came with his two children to watch Sunday's National Day celebrations, told AFP. Chan Yun-ching, another spectator, said many Taiwanese simply felt helpless. 'Reunification now is not appropriate. But we are in no position to declare independence because the international community will not recognise us. It's useless,' he said. Polling shows the vast majority of Taiwanese have no desire to be ruled by Beijing. Most favour maintaining the status quo although there is a growing Taiwanese nationalist sentiment, especially among younger people A helicopter carries a Taiwan flag during the national day celebration in Taipei, Taiwan, on Sunday China's crackdown in Hong Kong, a city Beijing said would be a model for how it would rule Taiwan, has also done little to endear Taiwanese to assurances that their way of life would continue under communist party rule A couple take a photo with Taiwan national flags during National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Building in Taipei on Sunday Members of the army participate during the national day celebration as they ride motorcycles through the city A military honor guard attends during National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Building in Taipei on Sunday Earlier on Saturday President Xi said China harbours ambitions of a 'peaceful reunification' with the island but warned it 'must be realised, and will definitely be realised'. Mr Xi was speaking at an official celebration in Beijing's Great Hall of the People that focused largely on the need for the ruling Communist Party to continue to lead China as the country rises in power and influence. 'Reunification through a peaceful manner is the most in line with the overall interest of the Chinese nation, including Taiwan compatriots.' The celebration was in honour of the 110th anniversary of the Chinese revolution in 1911 leading to the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and establishment of the Republic of China led by Sun Yat-sen. October 10 is celebrated in Taiwan as National Day and Mr Xi's address highlighted aspirations for a unified future, despite marked differences between China's authoritarian one-party system and Taiwan's multi-party democracy. Isabel Hilton, visiting professor at King's College London, told BBC R4's Today that Mr Xi's rhetoric had toned down after a week of 'intense military incursions and provocations'. She added: 'Personally, I think the price of an armed assault by China is high, China is aware of that. But they're not going to give up on national ambition of reunification as they see it. 'Taiwan sees itself as a self-governing democracy and the people have very little desire for reunification with China.' It comes as British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth ('Big Lizzie') was shown sailing in the Philippine Sea in a joint exercise with two US carriers – the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Carl Vinson – and Japan's helicopter destroyer JS Ise. The armada, which also includes a number of warships from six different countries in total, trained together over the weekend in the region amid the rising tensions. The recent voyages through the Strait of Taiwan by the British and American navies, coupled with the new Aukus defence pact have infuriated Beijing and sparked more shows of strength in the South China Sea. Pictured: Britain's HMS Queen Elizabeth warship (second right at the head of the armada) took part in joint training with warships from six different countries over the weekend in the Philippine Sea amid rising tensions between China and Taiwan Nearly 150 Chinese warplanes have breached Taiwan's airspace since Friday, including nuclear-capable bombers on Monday in a dramatic increase in aggression Ms Hilton added: 'China has many tools as its disposal, including that 80 per cent of Taiwan's economy is somewhat dependent on trade with China. 'The military side is a show of force that is largely crowd pleasing at home, as well as upsetting for Taiwan in advance of their national day celebrations. It doesn't signal imminent assault.' Taiwan and China split in 1949 amid civil war, with the then ruling Nationalist Party fleeing to the island as Mao Zedong's Communists swept to power on the mainland. Self-governing Taiwan, which is home to the Republic of China which fought against the Communist Party when it first emerged, views itself as an independent state but Beijing views it as a breakaway province. The Republic of China has long-standing ties with the US, which historically recognised it as the legitimate government of the whole of China. Since 1949, Taiwan has been self-ruled, but its sovereignty is denied by Beijing, which has refused to renounce the option of using force to bring the island under its control. Beijing has also sought to isolate Taiwan internationally by barring it from the United Nations and other international organisations and opposing official contacts between its government and nations that recognise China, especially the United States, which is legally bound to consider threats against Taipei a matter of 'grave concern'. 'Taiwanese separatism is the biggest obstacle to the motherland's reunification,' Mr Xi added, saying those who advocated for independence would be 'condemned by history'.