On June 23rd, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu warned that Taiwan needs to prepare for military conflict with China.
His warning came one week after the island reported the largest daily fly over by Chinese military planes into Taiwan’s self-declared Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
The flight included 28 Chinese warplanes, including fighter jets and bombers, and did not violate Taiwanese sovereign airspace or international law, but it was seen as show of strength by China’s People’s Liberation Army.
“As Taiwan decision makers, we cannot take any chances, we have to be prepared,” Wu told CNN in Taipei. “When the Chinese government is saying they would not renounce the use of force, and they conduct military exercises around Taiwan, we would rather believe that it is real.”
Wu, who has served as minister of foreign affairs since 2018, was accused by Beijing in May of being a “diehard separatist” after remarks he made during a news conference that Taiwan would fight “to the very last day” if attacked by China.
“Stopping ‘Taiwan independence’ is the necessary condition for maintaining peaceful cross-strait relations,” said Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office. “Joseph Wu has repeatedly and arrogantly provoked ‘Taiwan independence’ … we will take all necessary measures to severely punish such ‘Taiwan independence’ diehards for life in accordance with the law.”
In response, Wu said he is “honored” to be targeted by Communist authorities in Beijing.
“Authoritarianism cannot tolerate truth. If they continue to say that they want to pursue me for the rest of my life, I’m not really concerned about that,” he said.
On June 22nd, a United States warship sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait over Beijing’s protests, in the sixth such transit near the self-ruled island under US President Joe Biden’s administration.
The USS Curtis Wilbur, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, conducted a “routine transit” through the strategic waterway that separates Taiwan from mainland China to “demonstrate the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”, according to a US Navy statement.
Just a week earlier, on June 15th, a US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Ronald Reagan has entered the South China Sea as part of a routine mission, the US Navy said, at a time of rising tensions between Washington and Beijing.
China frequently objects to US military missions in the South China Sea, saying they do not help promote peace or stability, and the latest mission comes after China condemned the Group of Seven (G7) nations for a statement criticising Beijing over a range of issues.
“While in the South China Sea, the strike group is conducting maritime security operations, which include flight operations with fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, maritime strike exercises, and coordinated tactical training between surface and air units,” the US Navy said.
“Carrier operations in the South China Sea are part of the US Navy’s routine presence in the Indo-Pacific.”
In further support of the US and its antagonism of China, a British-led aircraft carrier group led by the HMS Queen Elizabeth is moving towards the South China Sea.
The 65,000-ton aircraft carrier with more than 30 aircraft plans to visit the Asian waterway for military drills with the U.S. Navy and Japanese Maritime Self Defense Forces, British media outlets say. The ships set sail in May for a world journey of seven months, the Royal Navy said on its website without specifying when it would reach the South China Sea. A Dutch frigate and an American destroyer have joined the group.
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