China’s recent increase in military exercises and warplane missions near Taiwan was necessary to defend sovereignty and territory, a Chinese official said yesterday, prompting Taipei to say that it had sabotaged peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
China’s military flew 56 planes off the southwest coast of Taiwan on a single day earlier this month, a single-day record that capped four days of a sustained pressure campaign involving 149 flights in international airspace.
The purpose of the maneuvers was to “fundamentally safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation and the vital interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said, without specifying a threat.
“The People’s Liberation Army exercises are necessary actions to defend [Chinese] national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ma told reporters at a biweekly news conference in Beijing.
In Taipei, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that China has sabotaged peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait with its military provocation, diplomatic coercion and economic pressure against Taiwan.
Chinese aggression has also sparked concerns from the US and other partners of Taiwan, highlighting the importance of the nation’s security and its strategic role in the international community, Ou said in a statement.
Taiwan will continue to defend the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific region, bolster its self-defense capabilities, and protect its freedom and democratic institutions, she said.
Over the past few days, several high-ranking US officials have urged Beijing to stop coercing Taiwan with military force, while reaffirming Washington’s commitment to Taiwan as “rock solid,” Ou said, thanking Washington for its support.
In a talk this week with journalists, political scientist Shelley Rigger said that while the cross-strait situation seemed more intense, it was more likely being used as a deterrent.
China is “trying to deter Taiwan from imagining that there is some kind of opportunity to make a change in its own position and also trying to deter the US from providing support or creating the impression in Taiwan that this might be a moment for Taiwan to push the envelope harder,” said Rigger, a longtime observer of Taiwanese politics at Davidson College in North Carolina.
“I also think that there is an element of the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] kind of testing its own operational capabilities, and so it’s kind of killing two birds with one stone,” Rigger said. “You’re sending a strong message to Taiwan and to the US, and you’re also getting a lot of flight hours at a minimum for your military personnel.”
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
WHEELING AND DEALING? Hou You-yi, Ko Wen-je, Eric Chu and Ma Ying-jeou are under investigation for allegedly offering bribes for the other side to drop out of the race Taipei prosecutors have started an investigation into allegations that four top politicians involved in attempts to form a “blue-white” presidential ticket have contravened election regulations. Listed as defendants are Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate and New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), KMT Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫), former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of the KMT and Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Chairman and presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲). The case stemmed from judicial complaints filed last month with the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office alleging that the KMT (blue) and the TPP (white) had engaged in bribery by offering money or other enticements
COUNTER DISINFORMATION: More engagement and media literacy are needed to push back against misinformation and claims that the US is an unreliable partner, the AIT director said The US is “confident” that Taiwan does not face an imminent threat of a Chinese invasion, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Director Sandra Oudkirk told a US public radio show, adding that Washington remains committed to defensively arming the nation. She made the comment during an interview on All Things Considered, broadcast on Friday on US-based National Public Radio. “There is an important distinction between making plans and training troops, and getting ready to do something,” Oudkirk said, on whether she thinks Beijing plans to attack Taiwan in the near future. Chinese officials have told Washington that “their preference is for peaceful reunification,
EXPOSED: Some Taipei wardens reported joining the trips out of peer pressure, while others said they were relieved it was made public so they could refuse, a city councilor said Nearly 30 percent of Taipei borough wardens have joined group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government, leading prosecutors probing potential Chinese interference in January’s elections to question local officials, an investigation showed. Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors Chien Shu-pei (簡舒培) and Chen E-jun (陳怡君) have reported cases of Taipei borough wardens inviting residents to join inexpensive privately organized group tours to China that were partially funded by the Chinese government. The six-day trips reportedly cost NT$10,000 to NT$15,000, the councilors said. An investigation by the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) showed that nearly 30 percent
ELIGIBLE FOR JANUARY: All presidential candidates and their running mates meet the requirements to run for office, and none hold dual citizenship, the CEC said Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) Legislator and vice presidential candidate Cynthia Wu (吳欣盈) is working with the Central Election Commission (CEC) to resolve issues with her financial disclosure statement, a spokesman for the candidate said yesterday, after the commission published the statements of all three presidential candidates and their running mates, while confirming their eligibility to run in the Jan. 13 election. Wu’s office spokesman, Chen Yu-cheng (陳宥丞), said the candidate encountered unforeseen difficulties disclosing her husband’s finances due to being suddenly thrust into the campaign. She is also the first vice presidential nominee to have a foreign spouse, complicating the reporting of