TAIPEI: Taiwan said on Wednesday it would exercise its right to self-defense and “counterattack” if Chinese armed forces enter its territory, as Beijing increases military activities near the democratic island.
Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own despite strong objections from the Taipei government, held military drills around the island this month in response to a visit to Taipei by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. .
Taiwanese defense officials said China’s “high-intensity” military patrols near Taiwan were continuing and that Beijing intended to return the Taiwan Strait separating the two shores, its “inland sea” would become the main source of instability in the region.
“For aircraft and ships that have entered our 12-nautical-mile sea and air territory, the national army will exercise the right of self-defense and counterattack without exception,” said Lin Wen-Huang, deputy chief of the General Staff for Operations and Planning, told reporters at a press briefing.
Taiwan has repeatedly complained about Chinese drones flying near its small island groups near the Chinese coast.
The military will exercise the same right to “counterattack” Chinese drones that disregard warnings to leave its territory after issuing threats, Lin added.
Taiwan fired warning shots at a Chinese drone for the first time on Tuesday shortly after President Tsai Ing-wen ordered the Taiwanese military to take “strong countermeasures” against what she called Chinese provocations.
China’s Foreign Ministry this week dismissed Taiwan’s complaints of drone harassment as “not worth worrying about”, prompting Taipei to call Beijing nothing more than thieves.
In the same briefing, Ma Cheng-Kun, director of the National Defense University’s military academy, said China may continue to reject foreign warships passing through the strait without its permission.
“After the consolidation of the new normal military status, the risk of collision will increase if foreign warships insist on navigation and freedom rights,” he said.
US warships and those from allied nations such as Britain and Canada have regularly sailed the strait in recent years, including two US Navy warships last week.
Taiwan’s armed forces are well equipped but dwarfed by those of China. Tsai is overseeing a modernization program and has made increasing defense spending a priority.
China does not rule out using force to bring the island under its control. Taipei rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, saying the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island and that only the Taiwanese people can decide its future.



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