- Taiwan’s foreign minister said the autonomous island would fight to the end in a war with China.
- His comments come at a time when China is stepping up its military activities around Taiwan.
- This week, China sent a group of aircraft carriers, as well as dozens of military aircraft, to drill nearby.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
A senior Taiwanese official warned on Wednesday that the self-managed island will fight “to the last day” in a conflict with China, which has increased its military activities nearby.
“We are willing to defend ourselves, that without a doubt,” Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said, according to the AP.
“We are going to fight a war if we need to fight a war, and if we need to defend ourselves until the last day, then we will defend ourselves until the last day,” he added.
– 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) April 7, 2021
The Chinese military sent a group of aircraft carriers led by Liaoning to drill in waters near Taiwan on Monday to strengthen “the Chinese navy’s ability to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests,” said a spokesman. from the Ministry of National Defense of China.
The spokesman added that these exercises will continue and happen regularly.
Also on Monday, 10 Chinese military aircraft, including four J-10 and four J-16 fighter jets, a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and a KJ-500 early warning aircraft, entered the identification zone. of Taiwan’s air defense, CNN reported.
Commenting on Monday’s air raids and transportation exercises, Shi Hong, executive editor-in-chief of Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, told the Global Times, affiliated with the Chinese state, that “the exercise showed that the [People’s Liberation Army] is able to surround the island of Taiwan. “
Shi added that the exercises send a dissuasive message not only to Taiwan, but also to foreign forces, such as the United States and its allies, who can take steps to support Taiwan in the event of an eventuality.
The United States is not required to come to Taiwan’s defense, but considers the autonomous island democratic as a partner, often criticizing Chinese efforts to pressure or intimidate Taiwan, and has long supported Taiwan’s self-defense through arms sales.
Flights of Chinese military planes near Taiwan have become regular occurrences. Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Wednesday that 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighter jets, entered the ADIZ, according to Reuters.
Taiwan responds to these frequent, almost daily forays by shuffling its own fighter jets to intercept the Chinese aircraft.
Experts say there are several explanations for China’s military activities around Taiwan.
“I see this both as a military demonstration of PLA’s prowess and as a political statement about what Chinese leaders consider their position on Taiwan’s autonomy,” said RAND Corporation senior international / defense researcher Timothy Heath.
He explained that such activities also send an internal political message that Chinese leaders are still taking the goal of reunification seriously.
Then there is the training aspect of China’s military movements. He said that these exercises do not appear to be “a prelude to an upcoming operation”, but they are practicing.
China’s military movements near Taiwan occur at a time when some US military leaders raise concerns that China may choose to forcibly take back control of the island in the not-too-distant future.
The United States Navy admiral who heads the Indo-Pacific Command told a Senate committee last month that “the threat is manifest during this decade”. Another admiral who was supposed to be his successor argued a few days later that this “specific problem is much closer to us than many think”.
Last month, Taiwan’s defense minister said that “China may launch an attack, but its considerations will have to go beyond winning the first fight.”
“I always tell my colleagues to stop asking how many days we need to endure,” he said, according to Newsweek. “The question is how many days is it [China] want to fight? We will keep them company for as many days as they want to fight. “
Although Taiwan is a priority national interest for China, it is believed that the country’s military activities in the area are also directed at the United States.
The Global Times specifically pointed out on Monday that the Liaoning aircraft carrier training exercises near Taiwan took place at a “time when U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, made one-off provocations near China”.
The article expresses concerns about the presence of the carrier strike group Theodore Roosevelt in the South China Sea, as well as the movements of destroyer USS Mustin in the East China Sea.
The Chinese military expressed additional frustration on Wednesday, accusing the United States of negatively impacting peace and stability in the region after a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait. China argued that the move sent an inadequate message to Taiwan’s pro-independence forces.
The Navy said “the destroyer’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”, adding that the United States military “will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere that the international law allow “.