Taiwan’s defense ministry threatened Wednesday that it would strike Chinese armed forces if they come within 12 nautical miles of the Taiwanese air and sea territory.
Taiwan’s vow of self defense comes as China routinely sends warships and air sorties across the unofficial “median line” dividing the democratically-governed island from the mainland, Reuters reported. China’s “high intensity” patrols signaling China’s aims to bring the intermediary waters under full Chinese control would constitute the main sources of instability in the region, the ministry said at a press conference Wednesday.
“For aircraft and ships that entered our sea and air territory of 12 nautical miles, the national army will exercise right to self-defense and counter-attack without exception,” Lin Wen-Huang, Taiwan’s deputy chief of the general staff for operations and planning, said.
Taiwanese forces fired warning shots Tuesday for the first time at Chinese drones that flew close to the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen islands near the mainland, following with more flares and warning shots Wednesday, Reuters reported. The drones departed without incident.
Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-Wen had ordered “strong countermeasures” against China’s aggressive action in the Taiwan Strait, Reuters reported.
China immediately took issue with the Taiwanese defense ministry’s statements.
“Let me start by saying that Taiwan is a province of China and it does not have a ‘defense ministry,’” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press conference Wednesday, adding that Taiwan’s bid to “heighten tensions” would not produce any meaningful outcome.
China’s National Defense University military academy director Ma Cheng-Kun said earlier this week China may move to restrict passage of foreign naval vessels through the strait, consolidating “new military normal status” around the waters, Reuters reported.
Two U.S. warships made a “routine” transit through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, under close watch from the Chinese military. China claims the waters dividing the self-governing island of Taiwan as part of its “internal waters,” although the U.S. maintains that the territory is solely under international jurisdiction, according to CNN.
The U.S. will not tolerate China’s bid to “permanently alter” the status quo around Taiwan, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, according to Reuters.
“The concerns expressed by leaders in Taiwan are understandable given the aggressive, assertive, coercive, and quite frankly, unnecessary, activities that [China] continues to conduct from a military perspective in and around the Strait,” Kirby added.
Chinese forces have crossed the unofficial “median line” dividing Chinese and Taiwanese territory in the strait daily since House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit, part of a series of military drills intended to maintain pressure on Taiwan. While China has long expressed a desire to incorporate Taiwan into the mainland, it has lately grown comfortable with the idea of “reunification” by force.
The Chinese foreign ministry did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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