- Taiwan’s foreign minister said the autonomous island will fight to the end of a war with China.
- His comments come as China intensifies its military activities around Taiwan.
- This week, China sent a carrier group as well as dozens of military aircraft to drill nearby.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
A senior Taiwanese official warned on Wednesday that the autonomous island will fight to “the very last day” in a conflict with China, which has increased its military activities in the vicinity.
“We are willing to defend ourselves, it is without question,” Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said according to the AP.
“We are fighting a war if we need to fight a war, and if we need to defend ourselves until the very last day, then we will defend ourselves until the last day,”
– 外交部 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ROC (Taiwan) 🇹🇼 (@MOFA_Taiwan) April 7, 2021
The Chinese military sent an aircraft carrier group led by Liaoning to drill in waters near Taiwan on Monday to strengthen the Chinese navy’s “ability to protect national sovereignty, security and development interests,” a Chinese national defense spokesman said.
The spokesman added that such exercises will continue and happen regularly.
On Monday, 10 Chinese military aircraft, including four J-10 and four J-16 fighter jets, a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft and a KJ-500 aircraft for early warning, entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, CNN reported.
Commenting on Monday’s airstrikes and carrier exercise, Shi Hong, managing editor of Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, the Chinese state-affiliated Global Times, said that “the exercise showed that [People’s Liberation Army] is able to surround the island of Taiwan. “
Shi added that the exercises send a deterrent message to not only Taiwan, but foreign forces, such as the United States and its allies, that can take steps to support Taiwan in a contingency.
The United States is not obligated to come to Taiwan’s defense, but they consider the autonomous democratic island to be a partner that often criticizes Chinese efforts to pressure or intimidate Taiwan and has long supported Taiwan’s self – defense through arms sales.
The Chinese military flights near Taiwan have become regular events. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that 15 Chinese planes, including 12 fighter jets, entered ADIZ, according to Reuters.
Taiwan responds to these frequent almost daily attacks by encrypting its own fighters to intercept the Chinese plane.
Experts say there are several explanations for China’s military activities around Taiwan.
“I see it as both a military demonstration of the PLA’s prowess and a political statement of what Chinese leaders see as their stance on Taiwan’s autonomy,” said RAND Corporation, senior international / defense researcher Timothy Heath.
He explained that such activities also send a domestic policy message that Chinese leaders still take the goal of reunification seriously.
Then there is the training aspect of China’s military moves. He said these exercises do not appear to be “a prelude to an upcoming operation”, but they are practicing.
China’s military movements near Taiwan come as some US military leaders have raised concerns that China may choose to regain control of the island by force in the not-too-distant future.
The U.S. Navy Admiral, who led the Indo-Pacific Command, told a Senate committee last month that “the threat is evident during this decade.” Another admiral expected to be his successor claimed a few days later that this very “problem is much closer to us than most people think.”
Last month, the Taiwanese defense minister said “China may launch an attack, but its deliberations will have to go beyond winning the first battle.”
“I always ask my peers to stop asking how many days we need to endure,” he said, according to Newsweek. “The question is how many days it does [China] will fight? We keep them company for as many days as they want to fight. “
While Taiwan is a priority national interest of China, the country’s military activities in the area are also believed to be directed at the United States.
The Global Times specifically pointed out on Monday that the Liaoning aircraft carrier formation exercises near Taiwan came at a “time when U.S. warships, including an aircraft carrier, were making sharp provocations near China.”
The article expressed concern about Theodore Roosevelt’s carrier strike group’s presence in the South China Sea as well as the movements of the destroyer USS Mustin in the East China Sea.
The Chinese military expressed further frustration on Wednesday, accusing the United States of negatively impacting peace and stability in the region after a U.S. naval fighter sailed through the Taiwan Strait. China claimed that the move sent an inappropriate message to the independent forces in Taiwan.
The Navy said the destroyers ‘”transit through the Taiwan Strait” demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, adding that the U.S. military “will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”