Drills near Taiwan Strait show Beijing is threat to region: Tsai Ing-wen

Moves no help to China's image, she says after two days of Chinese sorties during US diplomat's visit

China's air force on Saturday put out a video showing exercises by its nuclear-capable H-6 bombers (above), which have been involved in many Chinese fly-bys of Taiwan.
China's air force on Saturday put out a video showing exercises by its nuclear-capable H-6 bombers (above), which have been involved in many Chinese fly-bys of Taiwan.PHOTO: ROCAF

TAIPEI • Two days of Chinese military aircraft approaching Taiwan demonstrate that Beijing is a threat to the entire region and have shown Taiwanese even more clearly the true nature of China's government, President Tsai Ing-wen said yesterday.

Multiple Chinese aircraft flew across the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait and into Taiwan's air defence identification zone on Friday and Saturday, causing Taiwan to scramble jets to intercept. China claims Taiwan as its own territory.

At a news conference in Beijing on Friday about China's United Nations peacekeeping efforts, China announced combat drills near the Taiwan Strait and denounced what it called collusion between the island and the United States.

The exercises took place as US Undersecretary for Economic Affairs Keith Krach was in Taipei, the most senior State Department official to visit in four decades.

Speaking to reporters, Ms Tsai denounced China's drills.

"I believe these activities are no help to China's international image and, what's more, have put Taiwan's people even more on their guard, understanding even better the true nature of the Chinese communist regime," she said.

"Additionally, other countries in the region also have a better understanding of the threat posed by China. The Chinese communists must restrain themselves, and not provoke."

China's air force on Saturday put out a video showing exercises by its nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, which have been involved in many Chinese fly-bys of Taiwan. One montage shows a simulation of an H-6 attack against an airbase that appears by its runway layout to be the main US Air Force base on Guam.

When asked about that footage and China's decision to release it while Mr Krach was in Taiwan, Ms Tsai said China's recent activities were a threat broader than just to Taiwan.

"China's existence is indeed aggressive and will bring a definite threat," she said.

In comments carried by the Chinese state media from a forum on relations with Taiwan in the south-eastern Chinese city of Xiamen, the No. 4 leader of the ruling Chinese Communist Party yesterday did not directly mention the recent drills.

Mr Wang Yang, who heads a largely ceremonial advisory body to China's Parliament, reiterated that Taiwan independence was a dead end, and that "relying on foreigners to pump yourself up was to take a risk out of desperation".

"It will only bring Taiwan risks it cannot bear," he said, in comments made by video.

A THREAT

I believe these activities are no help to China's international image and, what's more, have put Taiwan's people even more on their guard, understanding even better the true nature of the Chinese communist regime.

TAIWAN PRESIDENT TSAI ING-WEN, denouncing China's military drills near the Taiwan Strait.

Further friction seems likely as Taiwan and the US continue to deepen relations, with Taipei angling for a free trade agreement.

Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said yesterday that the island plans to hold a formal economic dialogue with the US, after having what she called informal talks with Mr Krach and his team on issues such as supply chain restructuring.

Separately, Ms Tsai said yesterday that there was no plan for her to talk by telephone with new Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, after a Japanese envoy had told her that Mr Suga might be open to it, prompting concern in Beijing.

Meeting Ms Tsai in Taipei on Friday, former Japanese prime minister Yoshiro Mori, visiting for a memorial service for late president Lee Teng-hui, said Mr Suga told him that "if there is the opportunity, he hopes to speak by phone or other means".

China's Foreign Ministry said late on Saturday that Japan had told them that such a thing "will never happen", after Beijing sought clarification from Tokyo.

Ms Tsai told reporters that she did not talk about this issue with Mr Mori. "We also don't have this plan at the moment to have a telephone conversation," she said.

A spokesman for Japan's Foreign Ministry echoed Ms Tsai's comments, saying "there is no plan for a telephone call" between the two leaders.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 21, 2020, with the headline 'Drills near Taiwan Strait show Beijing is threat to region: Tsai'. Print Edition | Subscribe