Taiwan's president has apologized on behalf of the government to the island's aboriginal peoples for 400 years of conquest and colonization.

Tsai Ing-wen said Monday it was necessary for the government to face up to past injustices in order for Taiwan to move ahead as a fair and equitable society.

Taiwan was inhabited by a variety of tribes for thousands of years before Dutch colonizers began importing Chinese laborers in the 17th century.

Tsai was elected by a landslide in January elections that have thrown a shadow over the island's relations with China, which claims Taiwan as a part of its territory from ancient times. Her view of Taiwan as a colonial society clashes with Beijing's claim that the island has always been an inherent part of China.