TAIPEI, Aug 31 – Taiwan said on Wednesday it would exercise its right to self-defense and counterattack if Chinese armed forces entered its territory, as Beijing increased military activity near the democratically-ruled island.
Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own against strong objections from the Taiwanese government, held military exercises around the island this month in response to a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.
Taiwanese defense officials said Chinese military patrols with “high intensity” near Taiwan continued and Beijing’s intention to make the Taiwan Strait separating the two sides an “inland sea” would become a major source of instability in the region.
“For aircraft and ships that have entered our 12 nautical mile sea and air territory, the national military will without exception exercise the right of self-defense and counterattack,” said Lin Wen-Huang, Taiwan’s deputy chief of the general staff for operations and operations. planning, he told reporters.
Taiwan has complained that Chinese drones have repeatedly flown close to its small groups of islands near China‘s coast.
The military would exercise the same right to counterattack Chinese drones that ignored warnings to leave Taiwanese territory after posing threats, Lin added.
Taiwan fired warning shots at a Chinese drone for the first time on Tuesday, shortly after President Tsai Ing-wen ordered the military to take “strong countermeasures” against what it called Chinese provocations.
Taiwan’s military said its forces on Wednesday again fired warning shots and flares at drones buzzing islets in its Kinmen chain, located just off the coast of the Chinese cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou.
The drones then flew back to Xiamen, he added.
At a regular press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reiterated Beijing’s position that Taiwan belongs to China.
“First of all, I have to tell you that Taiwan is a province of China, it has no so-called Ministry of Defense. The Taiwanese authorities are playing nervous, it makes no sense,” he said.
Earlier in the week, the ministry dismissed complaints from Taiwan of drone harassment, saying it was “not worth getting upset about.” Read more
At the same briefing, Ma Cheng-Kun, director of the National Defense University’s military academy, said China could continue to deny foreign naval vessels passage through the strait without its permission.
“After the consolidation of the new military normal, the risk of collision will increase if foreign naval ships insist on the rights of navigation and freedom,” he said.
White House national security spokesman John Kirby told reporters that China continues to seek to “permanently change” the status quo around Taiwan and that the United States will not accept that.
“The concerns expressed by leaders in Taiwan are understandable given the aggressive, assertive, coercive and frankly unnecessary activities the PRC continues to conduct in and around the Straits militarily,” Kirby said, referring to the People’s Republic. of China.
US warships and ships from allied countries such as Britain and Canada have routinely passed through the Taiwan Strait in recent years, including two US Navy warships last week. Read more
Taiwan’s armed forces are well-equipped but dwarfed by China’s. Tsai is overseeing a modernization program and has made increasing defense spending a priority.
China has not ruled out using force to bring the island under its control. Taipei rejects Beijing’s claims to sovereignty, saying the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and that only the people of Taiwan can decide its future.