Beijing does not tolerate foreign forces intervening in issues involving Taiwan and has to make strong responses to such acts of “collusion,” the Chinese government said yesterday after Taipei reported the largest incursion to date of Chinese aircraft.
Twenty-eight Chinese aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Tuesday, the government said.
The incident came after G7 leaders on Sunday issued a joint statement scolding China for a series of issues, and underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, comments China condemned as “slander.”
Asked at a news conference whether the military activity was related to the G7 statement, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said it was the Taiwanese government that was to blame for tensions.
Beijing believes that Taipei is working with foreign nations to seek formal independence.
“We will never tolerate attempts to seek independence or wanton intervention in the Taiwan issue by foreign forces, so we need to make a strong response to these acts of collusion,” Ma said.
Taipei has complained of repeated missions by Chinese aircraft near Taiwan, concentrated in the southwest of its air defense zone near the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島).
However, this time not only did the Chinese aircraft fly in an area close to the Pratas Islands, but the bombers and some of the fighters flew around the southern part of Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense said.
The flyby happened on the same day that the US Navy said a carrier group led by the USS Ronald Reagan had entered the disputed South China Sea.
“The Ronald Reagan Strike group did not interact with any Chinese military aircraft,” Carrier Strike Group 5 spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Joe Keiley said in an e-mailed statement responding to questions on whether the Chinese aircraft had approached the group. “During the strike group’s South China Sea operations, all communications between ships and aircraft have been consistent with international norms and have not impacted our operations.”
A senior official familiar with Taiwan’s security planning said that officials believe China was sending a message to the US as the carrier group sailed through the Bashi Channel.
“It’s strategic intimidation of the US military. They wanted the United States to notice their capability and for them to restrain their behavior,” the source said.
Taiwan needs in particular to pay attention to China’s military starting conducting drills in the southeastern ADIZ, the source added.
This “to a certain degree was targeting our deployments in the east and increasing air defense pressure around our ADIZ,” the source said.
The east coast is home to two major air bases with hangars dug out of the side of mountains to provide protection in the event of a Chinese assault.
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