Taiwan warns of ‘catastrophic consequences’ after China’s record incursion

·4 min read
Chinese PLA airborne Shaanxi KJ-500 (AEW & C), following the incursion of nineteen Chinese PLA warplanes on 2 October into Taiwan's airspace  (EPA)
Chinese PLA airborne Shaanxi KJ-500 (AEW & C), following the incursion of nineteen Chinese PLA warplanes on 2 October into Taiwan's airspace (EPA)

Taiwan’s president has warned of “catastrophic consequences” to the region should Taipei fall to Beijing after the neighbour scaled up its military intimidation of the island nation for a fourth day.

Monday saw a record number of 56 Chinese warplanes intruding Taiwan’s airspace, prompting Taipei’s defence ministry to scramble its air defence system and issue warnings.

The ministry first identified 52 planes, including 34 J-16 fighter jets and 12 nuclear capable H-6 bombers.

They later updated the number of warplanes to 56 when four more Chinese J-16s intruded Taiwan’s air defence identification (ADIZ) zone, a buffer outside the country’s airspace.

Taiwan’s prime minister Su Tseng-chang said it needs to be “on alert” and reprimanded China for “over the top” manoeuvres following the latest incursions.

Monday’s show of force by Beijing marked the fourth straight day of intrusions by People Liberation Army’s aircraft with about 148 Chinese planes encroaching the island’s airspace.

Recent developments coincided with China’s National Day, 1 October, when 38 Chinese warplanes entered Taiwan’s airspace. Taiwan’s National Day is marked on 10 October.

“The world has also seen China’s repeated violations of regional peace and pressure on Taiwan,” Mr Tseng-chang said. Mr Tseng-chang stressed on the need for the country to “strengthen itself” as “only then will countries that want to annex Taiwan not dare to easily resort to force. Only when we help ourselves can others help us.”

Tsai Ing-wen, president of Taiwan warned of “catastrophic consequences” for peace in Asia if Taipei falls to Beijing in an essay published on Tuesday for Foreign Affairs magazine. She said “Taiwan will do whatever it takes to defend itself” if threatened while stressing the desire for peace.

“Amid almost daily intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army, our position on cross-strait relations remains constant: Taiwan will not bend to pressure, but nor will it turn adventurist, even when it accumulates support from the international community,” she wrote.

On Tuesday, Japan’s foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that it believes it is crucial that the situation between Taiwan and China remain “peaceful and stable” and they are watching the situation closely.

“Additionally, instead of simply monitoring the situation, we hope to weigh the various possible scenarios that may arise to consider what options we have, as well as the preparations we must make,” he added.

Australia and the US state department also reiterated its “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan and urged Beijing to cease its intimidation.

Taiwan has been reporting escalation in Chinese intrusion into its airspace for more than one year, in what Chinese media and politicians call demonstration of strength but the Taiwan’s allies have condemned it as an act of aggression.

Taiwan’s foreign minister Joseph Wu has appealed for help from Australia, saying countries such as Canberra should develop closer ties with Taiwan as it continues to face a growing threat from its neighbour.

“We would like to engage in security or intelligence exchanges with other like-minded partners, Australia included, so Taiwan is better prepared to deal with the war situation,’ he said on ABC’s China Tonight program.

“And so far, our relations with Australia [are] very good and that is what we appreciate.”

Taipei’s top China policy-making body, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), asked Beijing to stop provocations while accusing it of “damaging the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

“China is the culprit for causing tensions between the two sides of the (Taiwan) Strait and it has further threatened regional security and order,” MAC spokesman Chiu Chui-cheng said in a statement. He said Taiwan “will never compromise and yield” to such threats.

Beijing, in response, asked the US to stop supporting and “inflating” Taiwan separatist forces.

“Engaging in Taiwan independence is a dead end. China will take all steps needed and firmly smash any Taiwan independence plots,” the ministry said.

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