Thu, 07 Dec 2023

The Taipei government has said air and naval drills from the mainland are "getting out of hand"

Taiwan's defense minister has pointed to a spike in military activity in the airspace and waters around the island, after local officials reported dozens of Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) fighter jet and bomber flights in recent weeks.

Speaking to reporters for a Thursday news briefing in Taipei, Chiu Kuo-cheng claimed the PLA has engaged in "land, sea, air and amphibious" drills throughout September. "[The] recent enemy situation is quite abnormal," he added.

Less than 24 hours after Chiu's remarks, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry reported that 10 PLA military aircraft and five navy vessels were detected "around Taiwan," claiming two of the planes had entered the island's air defense identification zone.

"[Taiwanese] Armed Forces have monitored the situation and tasked... aircraft, navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond to these activities," the ministry added.

Chiu later responded with a warning that Beijing's actions were "getting out of hand" and said they raised the chances of an accidental clash.

"The risks of activities involving aircraft, ships, and weapons will increase, and both sides must pay attention," he said, adding "this is something we are very worried about."

Beijing views Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory, insisting that it reserves the right to reunify by force should it officially declare independence from the mainland. Though few nations formally recognize the island as a sovereign state, the US and several allies maintain informal but strategic relations with Taiwanese officials, frequently drawing the ire of China.

The Chinese military has launched multiple rounds of wargames following high-level meetings between US and Taiwanese officials over the last year, including a massive simulated blockade after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in 2022. A similar demonstration was held last April following a sit-down between Pelosi's successor, Representative Kevin McCarthy, and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

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