Taiwan says it will exercise its right to self-defence and counter-attack if Chinese armed forces enter its territory, as Beijing increased military activities near the democratic island.
“For aircraft and ships that entered our sea and air territory of 12 nautical miles, the national army will exercise the right to self-defence and counter-attack without exception,” said Lin Wen-Huang, deputy chief of the general staff for operations and planning, at a news briefing.
Mr Lin added that the military would exercise the same right to counter-attack Chinese drones that did not heed warnings to leave its territory after posing threats.
Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own against the strong objections of Taipei, has held military exercises around the island this month in reaction to a visit to Taipei by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Taiwanese defence officials said China’s “high intensity” military patrols near Taiwan continued, and Beijing’s intention to make the Taiwan Strait separating the two sides its “inner sea” would become the main source of regional instability.
Taiwan complained of Chinese drones repeatedly flying close to its small groups of islands near China’s coast. Taiwan fired warning shots at a Chinese drone for the first time on Tuesday, shortly after President Tsai Ing-wen ordered Taiwan’s military to take “strong countermeasures” against what she termed Chinese provocations.
In a regular press briefing, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, reiterated China’s position that Taiwan belongs to it.
“Firstly, I need to tell you, Taiwan is a province of China. It has no so-called defence ministry. The Taiwan authorities are playing up their nervousness, and this is meaningless,” he said.
Earlier in the week, the ministry had dismissed complaints from Taiwan about drone harassment as “not worth fussing about.”
In the same briefing, Ma Cheng-Kun, a military academy National Defence University director, said China might further move to reject the passage of foreign naval ships through the strait without its permission.
“After the new military normal status has been consolidated, then the risk of collision will increase if foreign naval ships insist on the rights of navigation and freedom,” he said.
U.S. warships and those from allied nations such as Britain and Canada have routinely sailed through the strait in recent years, including two U.S. Navy warships last week.
Taiwan’s armed forces are well-equipped but dwarfed by China’s. Tsai oversees a modernisation programme and has prioritised increasing defence spending.
China has not ruled out using force to bring the island under its control.
Taipei rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, saying that the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and that only Taiwan’s people can decide their future.