President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned China against altering the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait after a pair of Chinese jets crossed the median line of the Strait on Sunday morning.
“China’s move is not only a unilateral change in the cross-strait status quo, it is also a provocation to peace in the region,” Tsai said in a speech at a military promotion ceremony.
In the face of a fast-changing international climate and multiple challenges to national security, the military will assume a much more important role in maintaining regional peace, safeguarding sovereignty and upholding people’s well-being, as well as the values of democracy and freedom, Tsai said.
Photo: Presidential Office via AP
“The military is firmly determined to defend the nation’s democracy, sovereignty and security,” she said. “We will never give even an inch of territory.”
The air force on Sunday scrambled five fighter jets to intercept two Chinese J-11 planes that crossed the median line of the Strait at about 11am.
It is understood that the Chinese military aircraft were 185km from Taiwan proper when they finally heeded the interceptors’ warnings and turned around.
According to a source at the Presidential Office, Tsai yesterday convened a meeting with National Security Council Secretary-General David Lee (李大維) and Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa (嚴德發), who briefed her on the military response to the incident.
Tsai was quoted as demanding during the meeting that “the Taiwanese military must always respond immediately to incursions by Chinese military jets across the median line of the Strait.”
Condemning China’s “intentional, reckless and provocative action,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee that Taiwan had informed its regional partners of the incursion the same day.
Wu declined to disclose which regional partners had been informed.
Although none of those partners have so far commented officially on the incident, many indicated disapproval of Beijing’s behavior, Wu said, adding that it was the first time in recent years that People’s Liberation Army Air Force jets had crossed the median line.
Asked to comment on the incident, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said that Beijing’s efforts to unilaterally alter the status quo “are harmful and do not contribute to regional stability.”
“Rather, they undermine the framework that has enabled peace, stability and development for decades,” AIT spokesperson Amanda Mansour said, while reiterating Washington’s position that Beijing should stop its coercive efforts and resume dialogue with Taipei.
“Consistent with the Taiwan Relations Act, the United States considers any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, of grave concern to the United States,” she said.
She added that to the US “Taiwan is a reliable partner, a democratic role model and a force for good in the world.”
“The United States urges China to abstain from coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan,” she said.
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