BEIJING (REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE) - China's Defence Ministry said on Thursday (Jan 28) that recent military activities in the Taiwan Strait were a response to interference by foreign forces and provocations by forces supporting Taiwan's independence, adding that "independence means war".
Ministry spokesman Wu Qian made the comments at a monthly news briefing in response to a question about recent stepped up Chinese military activity reported by Taiwan in the island's air defence identification zone.
Eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets entered the south-western corner of Taiwan's air defence identification zone last Saturday, said Taiwan, and the island's air force deployed missiles to "monitor" the incursion.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has conducted almost daily flights over the waters between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea in recent months.
The flights have generally consisted of just one or two reconnaissance aircraft. But the presence of so many Chinese combat aircraft last Saturday was unusual, said Taiwan.
Beijing defended the exercises as necessary to "safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity".
The exercises "solemnly warn external forces to stop interference and sternly warn... separatist forces to stop provocations", said Ms Zhu Fenglian, spokesman for Beijing's Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council on Wednesday.
On Dec 31, two US warships sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait, the second such mission that month and coming as their Chinese counterparts kicked off massive naval drills in the disputed South China Sea.