Taiwan won’t be the one to start war with China, says its defence minister

·2-min read
Taiwan won’t be the one to start war with China, says its defence minister

Taiwan will not be the first to launch into a war against China but will defend itself fully if needed, defence minister Chiu Kuo Cheng told the island’s parliamentarians on Thursday.

“What is clearest is that the Republic of China absolutely will not start or set off a war, but if there are movements we will meet the enemy full on,” Mr Chiu said, using Taiwan’s official name.

Though Beijing has attempted to mount pressure on the island, Taiwan wants to maintain the status quo with China and will not “advance rashly”, he added.

The defence minister’s comments came as tensions between China and Taiwan rose to their worst in over four decades. China sent a record of 148 warplanes into Taipei’s airspace in the span of just four days from 1 October. As many as 56 intrusions were carried out on a single day.

The apparent show of force led to concerns within the region and prompted reactions from many world leaders, who urged China to avoid such provocation.

Mr Chiu added that China aimed to put pressure on Taiwan and to project that Beijing has “the ability to scare away and obstruct foreign military forces from getting involved”. He had said last week that China would be capable of mounting a “full scale” invasion by 2025.

His latest remarks came after the defence ministry submitted a report to parliament warning China of strong countermeasures if Beijing’s forces get too close to the island. It said that Taiwan will abide by the principle of “the closer they are to the island, the stronger the countermeasures”.

On Wednesday, Ma Xiaoguang, the spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said the recent military activities were a “just” and necessary move to defend Beijing’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Mr Ma blamed Taiwan’s “collusion” with foreign forces — a veiled reference to US support for Taiwan — and “provocations” seeking independence for the latest tensions.

Taiwan is a self-governing democracy that says it is an independent country called the Republic of China, and insists it will defend its freedom. China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, maintaining that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it.

The Chinese embassy in Washington, meanwhile, has lodged a stern representation with the US side for official meetings between Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the country and senior US diplomats.

“The US should not fantasise [about] seeking China’s support and cooperation while wantonly challenging China’s red line on the Taiwan question,” it said.

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