China is sending more jets; Taiwan says it will fight to the end if there is war
© Reuters. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu attends a press conference in Taipei
By Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee
TAIPEI (Reuters) – China sent more fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defense zone on Wednesday to demonstrate the force Beijing claimed. Taiwan’s foreign minister said it would fight to the end if China attacks.
The democratic self-governing island has complained of repeated Beijing military activities in recent months. China’s air force makes forays into Taiwan’s air defense zone almost every day. On Monday, China said an aircraft carrier group was training near the island.
According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighters, entered the air defense zone. A anti-submarine aircraft flew south over the Bashi Canal between Taiwan and the Philippines.
Taiwan’s Air Force sent planes to intercept and warn the Chinese, the ministry added.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said earlier in the day the United States was concerned about the risk of conflict.
“Because of my limited understanding of the American decision-makers who are watching developments in this region, they clearly see the danger that China will launch an attack on Taiwan,” he told reporters at his ministry.
“We are ready to defend ourselves without question and we will fight the war if we have to fight the war. And if we have to defend ourselves until the last day, we will defend ourselves until the last day.”
The Chinese Bureau on Taiwan Affairs and the US State Department did not respond to requests for comment on Wu’s remarks. China has stated that its activities around Taiwan are aimed at protecting China’s sovereignty. The United States has expressed concern about China’s movements and stated that its commitment to Taiwan is “absolutely solid”.
In addition to stepping up military action near Taiwan, the US Navy said the guided missile destroyer USS John S. McCain conducted a “routine” cross-strait transit on Wednesday.
Neither Taiwan nor China have said exactly where the Chinese carrier group is or whether it is headed for the controversial South China Sea, in which a US carrier group is currently operating.
Taiwan’s Deputy Defense Minister Chang Che-ping spoke in parliament about the Chinese airline’s movements being closely monitored and described its exercises as routine.
A person familiar with Taiwan’s security planning told Reuters the Carrier group is still “near the Japanese islands,” but declined to reveal the exact location.
Japan had said on Sunday that the Chinese carrier group had entered the Pacific after sailing the Miyako Strait through Japan’s southern Ryukyu island chain northeast of Taiwan.
Washington, Taiwan’s main international financier and arms supplier, has urged Taipei to modernize its military so that it becomes a “porcupine” difficult for China to attack.
Wu said Taiwan is determined to improve its military capabilities and spend more on defense.
“It is our responsibility to defend Taiwan. We will do everything we can to improve our defense capabilities.”
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry announced that it will be running eight days of computer-based war games this month to simulate a Chinese attack. A second phase of the drills, including live fire drills and anti-landing drills, will take place in July, when hospitals would also practice dealing with mass casualties.
“The exercises are based on the enemy’s toughest threats and simulate all possible scenarios of an enemy invasion of Taiwan,” Maj. Gen. Liu Yu-Ping told reporters.
When asked whether Washington’s de facto embassy, the American Institute in Taiwan, would send representatives to the exercises, Liu said such a plan had been “discussed” but was “not being implemented,” citing military sensibility .