Taiwan will not start a war with China but will defend itself “full on”, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Thursday, amid an increase in tensions between the pair that has raised concern internationally.
Military tensions with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, are at their worst in more than 40 years, Chiu said last week, adding that China will be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.
This month alone, China mounted four consecutive days of mass air force incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone that began on Oct. 1, flying 77 planes into the Taiwanese air identification zone.
No shots have been fired and China’s aircraft have stayed well away from Taiwan’s airspace, but Taiwan, a major worldwide semiconductor producer, has now said it will defend itself if attacked, but that it will not “advance rashly” .
“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,” Chiu told a parliament committee meeting, using Taiwan’s official name.
The ministry, in a report to parliament ahead of Chiu’s appearance before lawmakers, warned China of strong countermeasures if its forces got close to the island.
According to Reuters, Chiu agreed with an assessment from a lawmaker that China’s abilities were constrained by a limited mid-air refuelling capacity, meaning only H-6 bombers and Y-8 anti-submarine and reconnaissance aircraft could fly into the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan from the Philippines.
“Their aims are on the one hand to pressure Taiwan, and on the other to say to everyone else we have the ability to scare away and obstruct foreign military forces from getting involved,” he said.
China on Wednesday called its military activities a “just” move to protect peace and stability, and again blamed Taiwan’s “collusion” with foreign forces – a veiled reference to the United States – for sowing the tension.
On Wednesday this week, October 13, China’s Washington embassy on said it had complained to the U.S. government about a meeting between Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US and senior U.S. diplomats, and also of the visit of Taiwan’s army commander, Hsu Yen-pu, to the United States.
“The U.S. should not fantasise (about) seeking China’s support and cooperation while wantonly challenging China’s red line on the Taiwan question,” it said.