Chinese fighter jets or drones that invade Taiwan’s territorial airspace will be considered a “first strike”, Taiwan’s defense minister warned on Wednesday, as the island seeks to step up its defenses in response to military pressure from Beijing.
Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng made the remarks when addressing lawmakers about the threats posed by China’s recent wave of escalation measures, which saw Chinese warplanes and drones fly near the autonomous island.
Chiu did not specify how Taipei would respond if the People’s Liberation Army aircraft violated the territorial boundary, defined as 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from the island’s coasts.
“In the past, we said that we would not be the first to attack, which meant that we would not fire the first shot without [a China] fire artillery shells or missiles first,” said Chiu Kuo-cheng.
“But now the definition has obviously changed as China has used means like drones. Therefore, we adjust and we will see any crossing of air entities [no espaço aéreo territorial de Taiwan] as a first strike,” Chiu said during a meeting of the Legislative National and Foreign Defense Committee.
Earlier this year, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said the island’s military would take “necessary and strong countermeasures as appropriate” against what she called Chinese gray zone warfare tactics, including “drone harassment.” .
“We will not give China the pretext to create conflict. We won’t provoke disputes and we will be contained, but that doesn’t mean we won’t fight back,” Tsai said.
Pressed by lawmakers on Wednesday, Chiu said Taiwan’s military “definitely has its red line” when it comes to defending the island, and stressed that the military will launch “countermeasures” once the red line is crossed, without specifying which one. is the red line and what these countermeasures will be.
THE CNN contacted the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment and awaits a response.
Taiwan is less than 177 kilometers off the coast of China. For more than 70 years, the two sides were ruled separately, but that didn’t stop the Communist Party of China from claiming the island as its own — despite never having controlled it.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping said “reunification” between China and Taiwan was inevitable and refused to rule out the use of force.
Tensions between Beijing and Taipei are at their highest level in decades, with the Chinese military holding major military exercises near the island.
Following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in early August, China stepped up military pressure tactics on the island, sending fighter jets across the midline of the Taiwan Strait, the body of water separating Taiwan from China.
For decades, the median line served as an informal demarcation line between the two, with military incursions across it being rare.
But Chiu said Beijing had “broken” that understanding. He said Beijing had “changed the status quo” and was “establishing a new normal”.
Chiu’s statement adds to the complicated security situation in the strait, following recent comments by US President Joe Biden that the US military would defend Taiwan if the Chinese military launched an invasion of the democratically governed island.
Under the “One China” policy, the US recognizes China’s position that Taiwan is part of China, but has never officially recognized the Communist Party’s claim to the autonomous island of 23 million people. The US supplies Taiwan with defensive weapons, but remains intentionally ambiguous about whether it would intervene militarily in the event of a Chinese attack.
According to the US intelligence community, China is actively trying to build an army capable of dominating Taiwan — even in the face of US support for the island.
Earlier this year, CIA Deputy Director David Cohen said that while China’s leaders would prefer to gain control of Taiwan through “non-military means,” they want the country’s military to have the ability to take control. island by 2027, should such a decision be taken.
Source: CNN Brasil