The recent increase in military training and Chinese fighter missions near Taiwan, which have raised concerns around the region, is needed to defend the country’s sovereignty and territory, a Chinese official said Wednesday (13/10).
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said the purpose of the maneuvers was to “fundamentally protect the overall interests of the Chinese nation and the vital interests of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”
Ma blamed the Taiwanese government’s ties to “foreign powers” for escalating tensions.
The People’s Liberation Army of China (PLA) flew 56 planes off the southwest coast of Taiwan in just one day earlier this month. For four days in a row, the PLA seemed to put constant pressure on Taiwan by conducting 149 flights.
All of the flights took place in international airspace, but raised concerns that a misstep could trigger an unintended escalation.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen vowed Sunday to defend the island from rising Chinese pressure after a week of unprecedented tensions with Beijing.
Ma said Tsai’s speech “triggered confrontation, deceived history, distorted facts, and used so-called ‘consensus and unity’ as an excuse to try to manipulate Taiwan’s public opinion”.
Taiwan views China’s actions as a way to demonstrate its threats to bring the island it claims as its own territory under its control, even by military means if necessary.
Taiwan, a close US ally, has deployed fighter jets to intercept Chinese planes and activate its missile air defense system. Taiwan is also in the process of upgrading its defenses by purchasing new technology from the US and developing its domestic defense systems, including submarines.
Tsai’s comments came a day after Chinese leader Xi Jinping said the annexation of Taiwan “must be realized”, although the best move should be peaceful means.
He said that, “No one should underestimate the determination, will and strong ability of the Chinese people to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” [ab/uh]