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Taiwan defence minister says tensions with China are the worst in four decades

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By Reuters
Taiwan defence minister says tensions with China are the worst in four decades
Taiwan defence minister says tensions with China are the worst in four decades   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

TAIPEI -Military tensions with China are at their worst in more than 40 years, Taiwan’s defence minister said on Wednesday, days after record numbers of Chinese aircraft flew into the island’s air defence zone.

Tensions have hit a new high between Taipei and Beijing, which claims the democratic island as its own territory, and Chinese military aircraft have repeatedly flown through Taiwan’s air defence identification zone.

Over a four day period beginning last Friday, Taiwan reported close to 150 Chinese air force aircraft https://tmsnrt.rs/3ld6TyI entered its air defence zone, part of a pattern of what Taipei calls Beijing’s continued harassment of the island. Just one incursion was reported on Tuesday.

Asked by a lawmaker on the current military tensions with China at the parliament, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the situation was “the most serious” in more than 40 years since he joined the military, adding there was a risk of a “misfire” across the sensitive Taiwan Strait.

“For me as a military man, the urgency is right in front of me,” he told a parliamentary committee reviewing a special military spending https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taiwans-special-defence-budget-go-mostly-anti-ship-capabilities-2021-10-05 of T$240 billion ($8.6 billion) for home-made weapons including missiles and warships.

China says Taiwan should be taken by force if necessary. Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy, blaming China for the tensions.

Chiu said China already has the ability to invade Taiwan and it will be capable of mounting a “full scale” invasion by 2025.

“By 2025, China will bring the cost and attrition to its lowest. It has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration.”

The United States, Taiwan’s main military supplier, has confirmed its “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan and also criticised China. Beijing blames Washington’s policies of supporting Taiwan with arms sales and sending warships through the Taiwan Strait for raising tensions.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he had spoken to Chinese President Xi Jinping about Taiwan https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/biden-says-he-chinas-xi-have-agreed-abide-by-taiwan-agreement-2021-10-05 and they agreed to abide by the Taiwan agreement.

Biden appeared to be referring to Washington’s long-standing “one-China policy” under which it officially recognises Beijing rather than Taipei, and the Taiwan Relations Act, which makes clear that the U.S. decision to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing instead of Taiwan rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means.