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Taiwan urges China to stop ‘destructive’ military activities

Taiwan urges China to stop ‘destructive’ military activities

TAIPEI – Taiwan’s Defence Ministry on Monday urged China to stop “destructive, unilateral action” after reporting a sharp rise in Chinese military activities near the island, warning that such behaviour could lead to a sharp increase in tensions.

China regards the self-governing Taiwan as its territory, and seeks reunification. It has in recent years regularly carried out military drills around the island as it seeks to assert its sovereignty claims and pressure Taipei. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims.

The ministry said that since Sunday, it had spotted 103 Chinese military aircraft over the sea, a number it called a “recent high”.

Its map of Chinese activities over the past 24 hours showed 40 fighter jets crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which had served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides until China began regularly crossing it in 2022.

Other aircraft flew south of Taiwan through the Bashi Channel, which separates the island from the Philippines.

China’s activities over the past 24 hours have caused “serious challenges” to security in the strait and regionally, the ministry said in an accompanying statement.

Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are the common responsibilities of all parties in the region, it added.

“The continuous military harassment by the Communist military can easily lead to a sharp increase in tensions and worsen regional security,” the ministry said. “We call on the Beijing authorities to take responsibility and immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions.”

China’s Foreign Ministry did not comment on the sorties, though its spokeswoman Mao Ning reaffirmed Beijing’s position that Taiwan belongs to China.

“What I would like to tell you is that Taiwan is part of China’s territory, and the so-called median line does not exist,” she said.

In addition to the air force incursion near Taiwan at the weekend, China last week also dispatched more than 100 naval ships for exercises in the region, including in the strategic waters of the South China Sea and off Taiwan’s north-eastern coast, a regional security official told Reuters.

The official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, said the activity put pressure on everyone in the region. He called the scale of naval exercises the “largest in years”.

Taiwan’s Defence Ministry noted last week that July to September is traditionally the busiest season for Chinese military drills along the coast.

Military researcher Chieh Chung of Taiwan’s National Policy Foundation think-tank said that there might not be a direct “political motivation” for these drills, but China was pressuring Taiwan with longer missions across the median line.

China is also honing its abilities to operate fighters farther out at sea, as seen with the Y-20 aerial refuelling aircraft accompanying fighter jets, he added.

China is bolstering its air power facing Taiwan, with a permanent deployment of new fighters and drones at expanded air bases, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said in its biennial report in September. REUTERS

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