President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that Taiwan is concerned about potential accidents in the region as military activity increases and called on Beijing to restrain itself, after China allegedly fired four missiles in the South China Sea.
Tsai made the remarks after delivering a virtual address to the Indo-Pacific Leaders Dialogue at the invitation of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
The Presidential Office yesterday released a transcript of her speech and the question-and-answer session with participants.
Photo: Screen grab from Facebook
China’s latest volley of missile launches into the world’s most hotly contested body of water served as a warning to two key US targets: aircraft carriers and regional bases.
The missiles launched into the South China Sea on Wednesday included the DF-21D and DF-26B, theSouth China Morning Post reported, citing a person close to China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
A US Department of Defense official, who asked not to be identified, told Bloomberg News that China fired four medium-range ballistic missiles during a series of military exercises this week.
They landed in the sea between China’s southern Hainan Island and the disputed Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) near Vietnam, the official said, not far from where US carriers conducted drills in recent weeks to back up the decision of US President Donald Trump’s administration to challenge Beijing’s sovereignty claims.
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense yesterday reiterated its contention that the exercises were not directed at any one nation, without mentioning the missile launch.
Still, ministry spokesman Colonel Wu Qian (吳謙) said that “some US politicians” were trying to provoke a conflict between the two nations, but told a briefing in Beijing that China was “not afraid.”
Asked to evaluate the possibility of a cross-strait conflict, Tsai said that “there have been significant concerns over the potential for accidents, given increased military activity in the region.”
“Therefore, we believe it would be important for all parties to maintain open lines of communication to prevent misinterpretations or miscalculations,” she said.
Tsai called on Beijing to exercise restraint and recognize its obligations as a major regional power.
Asked about Taiwan’s expectations for Canberra, Tsai said: “We hope that Australia also continues to recognize the importance of Taiwan’s security in terms of the broader Indo-Pacific region.”
“After Hong Kong, Taiwan stands increasingly on the front lines of freedom and democracy. We certainly hope that like-minded countries will continue to work together to ensure Taiwan’s security,” she said.
Asked how Taiwan prepares itself for this more volatile and dangerous period, Tsai said that three components are absolutely essential.
“The first is our commitment to ensuring that we continue to take a pragmatic and consistent approach to our cross-strait policy,” she said. “Another issue of importance is to strengthen our defense capabilities... The third component is to strengthen our linkages with like-minded countries.”
“Peace, parity, democracy and dialogue” remain the nation’s principles in dealing with cross-strait relations, Tsai said.
The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday posted several photographs on Facebook to highlight cooperation between Taiwan and the US on security.
Among them, an image shows the first of 32 amphibious assault vehicles purchased from the US that arrived in Taiwan last month.
Another image shows Taiwanese military officers that participated in a virtual forum this month with the US Army’s 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.
Asked for comment on China’s missile launches, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Japan would not comment on a single event, but that it is opposed to any action that would escalate tensions in the South China Sea.
Japan continues to monitor China’s activities in the area, he said, adding that any territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved through international law.
Vietnam on Wednesday said that Beijing’s military exercises in the South China Sea infringed on its sovereignty.
“China’s repeated military exercises in [the Paracel Islands] violate Vietnam’s sovereignty, complicating negotiations for a Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea between China and ASEAN members,” Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said.
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