Taipei warns Beijing of stronger response if military drills get closer

TAIPEI • •Taiwan's top military leadership has warned China that the closer its aircraft and ships get to the island, the stronger Taipei's response will be, raising the stakes for further escalation with Beijing.

Taiwan will take tougher measures to fend off Chinese military sorties should they get too close to the Taiwanese mainland, according to a report by the island's Defence Ministry sent to legislators and seen by Bloomberg News.

Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng is scheduled to present the report in a speech to lawmakers today. "In response to the intrusions by Chinese communist military aircraft and ships into our air defence identification zone (ADIZ), we will adhere to the principle of 'the closer they get to the island, the stronger we will hit back'," the report said.

Taiwan's military will adopt a multi-pronged approach that uses aircraft, ships and its air defence systems to counter Chinese military incursions, the report said, increasing the flexibility of the island's threat response and helping to avoid overburdening military personnel.

The warning comes as China intensifies its military pressure on the government of President Tsai Ing-wen. Nearly 150 People's Liberation Army aircraft flew into Taiwan's self-declared ADIZ over four days around China's National Day holiday. China said yesterday its military drills near Taiwan are targeted at forces promoting the island's formal independence and are a "just" move to protect peace.

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 "collusion" with foreign force and "provocations" over seeking Taiwan's independence.

Chinese drills are aimed at this collusion - a veiled reference to United States 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.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2021, with the headline 'Taipei warns Beijing of stronger response if military drills get closer'. Subscribe