© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng speaks with lawmakers at the parliament in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 25, 2021. REUTERS / Ann Wang
By Ben Blanchard
TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan will not start a war with China, but will defend itself “fully,” Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Thursday, amid rising tensions in the Taiwan Strait that has generated international concern.
Taiwan, a major semiconductor producer, has repeatedly said that it will defend itself if attacked, but that it will not “rush forward” and wants to maintain the status quo with China.
“What is clearer is that the ROC will not start or unleash a war, but if there are movements we will face the enemy,” Chiu said at a meeting of the parliament committee, using the official name of Taiwan.
Military tensions with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, are at their worst in more than 40 years, Chiu said last week https://www.reuters.com/world/china/taiwan-defence-minister -says-china -will-have-capacity-mount-full-scale-invasion-2021-10-06, adding that China will be able to mount a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.
He spoke after China mounted four consecutive days of massive air force raids into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone that began on October 4. 1, part of a pattern of what Taipei sees as intensified military harassment by Beijing.
No shots were fired and China’s planes have stayed out of Taiwan’s airspace, concentrating their activity in the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defense zone.
The ministry, in a report to parliament before Chiu’s appearance before lawmakers, warned China of strong countermeasures if its forces got too close to the island.
Chiu agreed with an assessment by a legislator that China’s capabilities were limited by limited airborne refueling capability, meaning it only has H-6 bombers and Y-8 anti-submarine and reconnaissance aircraft that they have flown into the Bashi Canal that separates Taiwan. from the Philippines.
Chinese fighters have stayed much closer to the coast of China, according to maps of their activity produced by the Chiu ministry.
“Their objectives are, on the one hand, to put pressure on Taiwan and, on the other, to tell everyone else that we have the ability to drive away and obstruct the participation of foreign military forces,” he said.
China on Wednesday called its military activities https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/china-says-military-drills-near-taiwan-just-move-2021-10-13 a “fair” move to protect peace and stability, and again blamed Taiwan’s “collusion” with foreign forces – a veiled reference to the United States – for sowing tension.
The Chinese embassy in Washington said on Wednesday that it had complained to the US government about a meeting between Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the country and senior US diplomats, and about the visit of Taiwan’s army commander Hsu Yen- pu, to the United States.
“The United States should not fantasize (about) seeking China’s support and cooperation while only wanting to challenge China’s red line on the Taiwan issue,” he said.
Speaking earlier in the week, Chiu said Hsu was not in the United States on a secret trip, but as part of regular annual exchanges, according to Taiwan’s official Central News Agency.
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