Beijing’s unilateral military provocation is unhelpful to peaceful stability in the region and the development of cross-strait relations, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said yesterday.
“Taiwanese will not support Beijing’s military provocation,” Chang said.
The remarks came after 20 Chinese bombers and jets on Friday entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, an apparent reaction to Taipei and Washington on Thursday signing a memorandum of understanding to bolster maritime cooperation.
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft that made the incursion were 10 J-16 multirole fighters, two J-10 multirole fighters, four H-6K bombers, two Y-8 marine patrol planes, one KJ-500 early warning and control plane, and one Y-8 tactical reconnaissance plane, the Ministry of National Defense said.
The Y-8s and the H-6Ks flew an almost half-circle path within the zone to the south of Taiwan, while the other aircraft operated in airspace between Taiwan proper and the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島), a chart provided by the ministry showed.
Chang yesterday said that the nation’s armed forces and national security agencies were in full control of the incident and reacted appropriately.
The ministry on Friday said that the air force scrambled planes to monitor the Chinese aircraft, issuing radio warnings and mobilizing air defense assets until they left.
“This dangerous provocation by autocratic #China highlights the threats faced by democratic #Taiwan on the front line. But we aren’t interested in caving in. Such actions won’t stop us from being a force for good in the world & reliable partner of like-minded countries,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) wrote on his ministry’s Twitter account yesterday.
Separately, the US Department of State’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs on Friday wrote on Twitter that “our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid. We urge Beijing to cease its provocative behavior and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan.”
The department also urged China to stop pressuring Taiwan.
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan,” a department spokesman said in a statement.
China’s show of force was the biggest in terms of number of planes deployed since the defense ministry began to make public PLA aircraft movements near Taiwan in the middle of September last year.
On Feb. 19, nine Chinese planes entered the zone after two US lawmakers reintroduced a bill in the US Senate and US House of Representatives to deter Beijing from using force against Taiwan.
The following day, 11 planes were reported.
China sent numerous planes to the southern part of the zone on the first weekend after US President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Jan. 20 in what was widely interpreted as Beijing sending a message to Biden to not continue former US president Donald Trump’s level of support for Taiwan.
In other developments, Chang, in response to a Chinese boycott of apparel brands that expressed concern over Beijing’s human rights record in Xingjiang, yesterday said Beijing should be aware that nothing could be gained by turning patriotic and nationalistic furor against private enterprises.
Such behavior contradicts “the goal of transforming China into a so-called responsible great power,” Chang said. “The authorities in Bejing should confront the issue of Uighur human rights and the reality that only the cessation of oppression would end the international community’s criticism.”
Commenting on Taiwanese entertainers who joined China’s boycott, Chang said: “Our freedom and democracy are what enable Taiwanese to freely express themselves, and this is why we must protect our way of life.”
Public figures should be mindful that their influence brings a measure of responsibility to respect human rights as a universal value, he said.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
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