Taiwan ‘is prepared to defend itself against China’

The Straits Times/ANN

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan is prepared to defend itself against China if necessary, its Defense Ministry said in response to recent incidents of Chinese warplanes flying near the island.

China’s military has flown several fighter and reconnaissance aircraft near Taiwan for training exercises in the past few days, said the ministry. Yesterday morning, another People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Xian H-6 bomber was spotted flying very close to Taiwan’s airspace along the island’s west coast.

At a regular briefing yesterday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) spokesman Chen Chung-chi said that while Taiwan will not resort to any action that “could start a war… we will not back down in the face of threats”.

“The People’s Liberation Army has never given up on the idea of resolving problems through the use of military force,” said Major-General Chen, adding that Taiwan is keeping tabs on the PLA’s movements.

Last week, the MND also released photographs showing two Chinese H-6K bombers in Taiwan’s air defense identification zone in the East China Sea.

Beijing has been putting pressure on President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party as she has not acknowledged the “one China” principle since taking office in May last year. China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province to be reunited with the mainland eventually.

Taipei’s Chinese Culture University security expert Edward Chen said China’s move was a warning to Taiwan, ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress this autumn, noting: “China had to use its military force to show that it means business when telling Taiwan not to push its limits and do anything provocative.”

Meanwhile, China urged the U.S. to stop “unfriendly” and “dangerous” military flights after two Chinese fighter jets intercepted an American surveillance plane over the East China Sea, Agence France-Presse reported. The U.S. Navy EP-3 reconnaissance aircraft had taken evasive action on Sunday after a Chinese J-10 warplane zoomed under it, slowed down and pulled up in front of it, the Pentagon said earlier.