Taiwan has not been intimidated by China’s military drills this week, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, while a senior US official denounced the latest Chinese maneuvers as “coercion” and a threat to regional stability.
Tsai said Taiwan was resolute in its defense.
“China’s armed forces yesterday [Monday] sent a large number of military aircraft and naval vessels into our vicinity. Their actions threaten Taiwan and other like-minded countries in the region,” Tsai said at a forum cohosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to mark the 40th anniversary of the US’ Taiwan Relations Act.
Photo: Liao Chen-huei, Taipei Times
The event was attended by a delegation led by former US House of Representatives speaker Paul Ryan.
“These actions only serve to strengthen our resolve. Our military forces have the capacity, determination and commitment to defend Taiwan and not allow coercion to dictate our own future,” Tsai said.
She also said that US President Donald Trump’s administration had notified Taipei that its pilots could continue training at the Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.
“It enhances their abilities to defend our airspace. I want to express my appreciation to the US government for the announcement,” she said.
Taiwan scrambled jets and ships to monitor the Chinese forces on Monday, the Ministry of National Defense said, accusing Beijing of “trying to change the ‘status quo’ of the Taiwan Strait.”
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said that Taipei was seeking to “slander” China and mislead the public with its criticism of the exercises to provoke confrontation.
“No person or any force should underestimate our firm determination and strong ability to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” it said.
The People’s Liberation Army Daily said the goal of the drills was to practice a “combined firepower assault” that included electronic jamming from aircraft under the protection of fighter jets.
Bombers “screamed” toward the area and carried out “sudden attacks,” while warships occupied assault positions and conducted attacks on enemy fire points, the official paper of China’s military said.
Landing forces reached specified waters, which were circled by helicopters at low altitude.
The paper cited a Chinese military representative as saying the exercises were held annually and “completely within the normal legal rights of a sovereign country.”
China has repeatedly carried out what it calls “island encirclement patrols” in the past few years.
Ryan said that the US considered any military threat to Taiwan a concern and urged China to stop, saying it was counterproductive.
“I urge Beijing to choose the path of peace, respect, and civility by resuming dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected administration,” he said.
Tsai said she wants to maintain the “status quo” with China, but would defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.
The visit by US officials comes weeks after Tsai said the US was responding positively to Taipei’s requests for new arms sales to bolster its defenses in the face of growing pressure from China.
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