Taiwan said on Monday its armed forces have the right to self-defence and counter attack amid “harassment and threats”, in an apparent warning to China, which last week sent numerous jets across the mid-line of the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
Tensions have sharply spiked in recent months between Taipei and Beijing, which claims democratically run Taiwan as its own territory, to be taken by force if needed.
Multiple Chinese aircraft flew across the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait and into the island’s air defence identification zone on Friday and Saturday, prompting Taiwan to scramble jets to intercept and President Tsai Ing-wen to call China a threat to the region.
Taiwan’s defence ministry said in a statement it had “clearly defined” procedures for the island’s first response amid “high frequency of harassment and threats from the enemy’s warships and aircraft this year”.
It said Taiwan had the right to “self-defence and to counter attack” and that it followed the guideline of “no escalation of conflict and no triggering incidents”.
Taiwan would not provoke but is also was “not afraid of the enemy”, it added.
The Chinese drills took place last week as Beijing expressed anger at the visit of a senior US official to Taipei. On Monday, the official China Daily newspaper said in an editorial the United States was trying to use Taiwan to contain China but nobody should underestimate its determination to assert its sovereignty over the island.
“The US administration should not be blinkered in its desperation to contain the peaceful rise of China and indulge in the US addiction to its hegemony,” it said.
China has been angered by stepped-up US support for Taiwan, including two visits in as many months by top officials, one in August by Health Secretary Alex Azar and the other last week by Keith Krach, undersecretary for economic affairs.
The United States, which has no official diplomatic ties with the island but is its strongest international backer, is also planning major new arms sales to Taiwan.
China this month held rare large-scale drills near Taiwan, which Taipei called serious provocation. China said the exercise was a necessity to protect its sovereignty.