Taiwan president pledges stronger defense to China pressure

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has pledged to step up defense spending to defend the self-ruled island's sovereignty in the face of China's growing military assertiveness in the region.

Speaking at a military research center, Tsai said Friday that Beijing's "attempt to expand militarily in the region is more and more obvious" and Taiwan "needs to stand up for its sovereignty."

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists fled the mainland following a civil war. The communist Beijing government insists the two sides must unite, but surveys show most Taiwanese oppose that.

Beijing has rattled neighboring governments including Taiwan, Japan and South Korea by sending military aircraft close to their airspace.