The increased frequency of China’s military activities around Taiwan has raised the risk of events “getting out of hand” and sparking an accidental clash, Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said yesterday.
In the past two weeks dozens of fighters, drones, bombers and other aircraft, as well as warships and the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong, have operated nearby, Taiwan has said.
China has in the past few years carried out many such drills around Taiwan.
Photo: AFP / handout / Ministry of National Defense
Asked by reporters on the sidelines of the legislature’s plenary session whether there was a risk of an accidental incident sparking a broader conflict given the frequency of China’s activities, Chiu said that “this is something we are very worried about.”
Warships from China’s southern and eastern theater commands have been operating together off Taiwan’s east coast, he added.
“The risks of activities involving aircraft, ships and weapons will increase, and both sides must pay attention,” Chiu said.
China has not commented on the drills around Taiwan, and the Chinese Ministry of National Defense has not responded to requests for comment.
Chiu said that when the Shandong was at sea, which Taiwan first reported on Monday last week, it was operating as the “opposing force” in the drills.
China’s Eastern Theater Command was the “attacking force,” simulating a battle scenario, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense spokesman Major General Sun Li-fang (孫立方) said.
Taiwan’s traditional military planning for a potential conflict has been to use its mountainous east coast, especially the two major air bases there, as a place to regroup and preserve its forces given it does not directly face China unlike the west coast.
However, China has increasingly been flexing its muscles off Taiwan’s east coast, and generally displaying its ability to operate much further away from its own coastline.
China normally performs large-scale exercises from July to September, Taiwan’s ministry said.
The ministry yesterday said that China had largely dialed back its drills, reporting that over the previous 24-hour period it had only spotted two Chinese aircraft operating in its air defense identification zone.
Taipei has said that it would remain calm and not escalate the situation, but it would not allow “repeated provocations” from China, whose forces have so far not entered Taiwan’s territorial seas or airspace.
In related news, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs Yoko Kamikawa, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong (黃英賢) and Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar on Friday reaffirmed their countries’ opposition to any unilateral attempts to change the “status quo” in the Indo-Pacific region.
The ministers from the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) grouping of nations made the statement during a meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“The Quad reiterates its steadfast commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive and resilient,” a joint readout of their meeting said.
“We reaffirm our conviction that international law, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the maintenance of peace and security in the maritime domain underpin the development and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific,” it said. “We emphasize that disputes should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law, without the threat or use of force.”
Additional reporting by staff writer
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
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
GOOD NEWS: Although open civic spaces are shrinking in Asia-Pacific countries and territories, Taiwan’s openness is a positive sign, an expert said Taiwan remains the only country in Asia with an “open” civic space for the fifth consecutive year, the Civicus Monitor said in a report released yesterday. The People Power Under Attack 2023 report named Taiwan as one of only 37 open countries or territories out of 198 globally, and the only one in Asia. Compiled by Civicus — a global alliance of civil society organizations dedicated to bolstering civil action — the ranking compiled annually since 2017 measures the state of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression around the world. Researchers assign each country or territory one of five rankings describing the