Taiwan needs to be on alert for China’s “over the top” military activities, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday, after a record 56 Chinese aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone on Monday.
Taiwan has reported 148 Chinese air force planes in the southern and southwestern part of its air defense zone over four days beginning on Friday, the same day China marked its National Day.
The tensions are being viewed with increasing concern by the international community. Japan and Australia yesterday urged the two nations to talk, while the US said it has been “conveying clear messages” after what it described as destabilizing activities by China.
Taiwan calls China’s repeated nearby military activities “gray zone” warfare, designed to wear out Taiwanese forces by making them scramble repeatedly, as well as to test Taiwan’s responses.
“Taiwan must be on alert. China is more and more over the top,” Su told reporters in Taipei. “The world has also seen China’s repeated violations of regional peace and pressure on Taiwan.”
Taiwan needs to “strengthen itself” and come together as one, he said.
“Only then will countries that want to annex Taiwan not dare to easily resort to force. Only when we help ourselves can others help us,” he added.
The Chinese aircraft have not been flying in Taiwan’s air space, but its air defense identification zone, a broader area Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.
The White House has called out China’s “provocative military activity” near Taiwan.
“We remain concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations and undermines regional peace and stability,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news briefing on Monday, when asked about the issue.
She urged Beijing to cease all kinds of pressure and coercion against Taiwan, and said the US has an abiding interest in peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and would therefore continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability.
US Department of State spokesman Ned Price echoed Psaki during a separate briefing, saying that the US “strongly urged” Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan.
Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo also weighed in, posting on Twitter an article on the Chinese warplanes’ recent incursions and saying that the US must always stand with Taiwan.
In a sign of the fraught atmosphere, a security source confirmed reports in Taiwanese media that a Chinese pilot responded to a radio warning to leave the area on Sunday with an expletive.
The Chinese Ministry of National Defense did not respond to a request for comment.
Japan also weighed in yesterday, saying it was watching the situation closely, and hoped Taiwan and China could resolve their differences through talks.
“Japan believes that it is crucial for the situation surrounding Taiwan to be peaceful and stable,” Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi said in Tokyo.
“Additionally, instead of simply monitoring the situation, we hope to weigh the various possible scenarios that may arise to consider what options we have, as well as the preparations we must make,” he said.
The Japanese, US, British, Dutch, Canadian and New Zealand navies held joint drills near Okinawa over the weekend, including US and British aircraft carriers.
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs said it too was concerned by China’s increased air incursions.
“Resolution of differences over Taiwan and other regional issues must be achieved peacefully through dialogue and without the threat or use of force or coercion,” it said.
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