The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday expressed concern about Beijing’s aggressive and destabilizing actions near the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), while reiterating the nation’s sovereignty over the islands.
On Monday and Tuesday, four Chinese coast guard ships sailed near the Diaoyutai Islands, one of which was equipped with a cannon.
Two of the ships sailed away on Tuesday morning, including an armed vessel, while the others attempted to approach a Japanese fishing boat, the Japan Coast Guard said.
Situated in the East China Sea, the uninhabited islands — known as the Senkakus in Japan — are claimed by Taipei, Beijing and Tokyo.
It was the first armed incursion since China’s enactment on Feb. 1 of a new Coast Guard Law, which authorizes its coast guard to inspect and use weapons on foreign vessels in waters claimed by Beijing.
The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday lodged a formal complaint with Beijing.
Asked about China’s actions, ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) told a regular news conference in Taipei that the government is paying close attention to developments in the East China Sea.
The presence of an armed Chinese vessel near the Diaoyutais has a destabilizing effect, she said, adding that Chinese harassment is not just limited to the sea, she said.
So far this year, China has sent 97 military planes into the nation’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on 40 separate occasions, she said, citing data from the Ministry of National Defense.
Last year, 1,807 planes and ships encroached on the nation’s territory on 102 occasions, 91 of which involved entering the ADIZ, while the median line of the Taiwan Strait was crossed six times, she added.
China quickly turns to military aggression not only in the East China Sea and Taiwan Strait, but also in the South China Sea and its border with India, creating tension with its neighbors and regional instability, she said.
Reaffirming the nation’s claim over the Diaoyutais, Ou said the government would “resolutely defend the nation’s sovereignty.”
“The Diaoyutai Islands are unquestionably Taiwanese territory,” she said. “No one-sided claims or actions by any party can change this fact.”
Taipei would continue to seek a solution through peaceful and rational means, while also protecting the rights of fishers, Ou said, calling on other parties to exercise restraint for the sake of regional peace and stability.
Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) on Tuesday also raised the alarm over Chinese maritime coercion, telling Kyodo News that Beijing is “using multiple tools to expand their presence in the region.”
She also expressed Taipei’s interest in an emerging alliance dubbed “the Quad” between the US, Japan, Australia and India to protect a free and open Indo-Pacific, saying that the nation would continue to observe how the arrangement evolves.
Also yesterday, Department of North American Affairs Deputy Director-General Douglas Hsu (徐佑典) said that Taiwan-US relations have continued to develop over the first month of the new US administration.
“Our work with the US has always been bipartisan,” he said. “We seek support for Taiwan from both parties.”
The US Department of State has even declared its “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan and reiterated its adherence to the Taiwan Relations Act and “six assurances,” while also vowing to support Taiwan’s international participation, he added.
Last year’s Global Cooperation and Training Framework between Taiwan, the US and Japan enabled dialogue on a number of important issues, which working groups are continuing to develop, Hsu said.
Taiwan-US relations have gotten off to a good start under US President Joe Biden, and would on this basis continue to grow, he added.
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