China says military drills near Taiwan a 'just' move

A Chinese PLA Xian H-6 jet bomber trespassing into Taiwan's ADIZ on Oct 4, 2021. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BEIJING (REUTERS) - Chinese military exercises near Taiwan are targeted at forces promoting the island's formal independence and are a "just" move to protect peace and stability, China's Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday (Oct 13).

It also said the exercises are aimed at interference by external forces.

Military tensions with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan's defence minister said last week, adding that China will be capable of mounting a "full-scale" invasion by 2025.

He was speaking after China mounted four straight days of mass air force incursions into Taiwan's air defence identification zone that began on Oct 1, part of a pattern of what Taipei views as stepped-up military harassment by Beijing.

Speaking at a regular news briefing in Beijing, Mr Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said the cause of current tensions was Taiwan's ruling Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) "collusion" with foreign force and "provocations" over seeking Taiwan's independence.

Chinese drills are aimed at this collusion - a veiled reference to US support for Taiwan - and separatist activities, protecting the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, he added.

"They are absolutely just actions," Mr Ma said. "The DPP authorities' hyping of the so-called 'military threat' of the mainland is to completely invert right and wrong, and a bogus accusation," he added. "If the DPP authorities obstinately persist in going about things the wrong way, and do not know how to draw back from the edge, it will only push Taiwan into a more dangerous situation."

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. Taiwan says it will defend its freedoms and democracy, blaming China for the tensions.

Despite Mr Ma's comments, both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen made relatively conciliatory speeches at the weekend, even as Mr Xi vowed to bring Taiwan under its control and Ms Tsai said it would not be forced to bow to China.

Mr Xi did not mention resorting to force over Taiwan, while Ms Tsai reiterated a desire for peace and dialogue with China.

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