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China continues to 'harass' Taiwan with military manoeuvres around self-ruled island

A fighter takes off during military exercises around Taiwan Island carried out by the Chinese People's Liberation Army from Nanjing on April 8, 2023
A fighter takes off during military exercises around Taiwan Island carried out by the Chinese People's Liberation Army from Nanjing on April 8, 2023 Copyright Wang Zixiao/Xinhua
Copyright Wang Zixiao/Xinhua
By Euronews with AP
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On Wednesday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defence said it tracked 35 flights by the People's Liberation Army warplanes within the last 24 hours, and eight navy vessels in the waters surrounding the island.

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China is keeping the pressure on Taiwan despite the formal conclusion of its recent military drills earlier this week. 

On Wednesday, Taipei said it tracked 35 flights by Chinese warplanes within the previous 24 hours, as well as eight navy vessels in the waters surrounding the self-ruled island.

“There are still some navy ships and aeroplanes carrying out harassment in the area. We strongly condemn these deliberately threatening and provocative actions that destroy the regional peace and stability,” Sun Li-fang, a spokesperson for Taiwan's Defense Ministry, said at a press briefing Wednesday.

Regional tensions haven't been helped by the United States and Philipines holding their own largest-ever joint military drills which China has called " a provocation".

Beijing says the three days of large-scale air and sea exercises named Joint Sword that ended Monday were a response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California last week.  

“The People’s Liberation Army recently organized and conducted a series of countermeasures in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding waters, which is a serious warning against the collusion and provocation of Taiwan independence separatist forces and external forces," Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a biweekly news conference.

“It is a necessary action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” she said.

Taiwan's Ministry of Transportation said Wednesday it had received a notice from China's Civil Aviation Administration that it would set up a control zone to “restrict flights” in parts of northern Taiwan from April 16-18, in effect setting up an area where flights would not be allowed to go.

“On their own, they set up a warning area to control flights within our country's jurisdiction's Taipei Aviation Information Region, using the excuse of aerospace activities,” the Taiwan statement said.

Taiwan said it strongly protested the notice and was able to get China to reduce the flight ban time from three days to 27 minutes on the morning of April 16. It is unclear what China plans to do at that time. Taiwan's Defense Ministry said it was looking into the matter but could not provide further details.

One China policy

Germany has pitched in with calls for calm, clearly blaming Beijing for the inflamed situation. 

"We are very concerned about the situation in the Taiwan Strait," Andrea Sasse, a spokesperson for Germany's foreign ministry said on Tuesday. "We naturally expect all parties in the region to contribute to stability and peace, and the same applies to the People's Republic of China."

However French President Emmanuel Macron said on a visit to the Netherlands that he will not join in a 'verbal escalation' of the Taiwan situation.

"France is for the status quo in Taiwan. France supports the one-China policy and the search for a peaceful settlement of the situation. This is, moreover, the position of the Europeans and it is a position which has always been compatible with the role of ally. 

"But it is precisely here that I insist on the importance of strategic autonomy. Being allies does not mean being a vassal. It is not because we are allies and we do things together that we decide to do that we don't have the right to think for ourselves."

China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be brought under its control by force if necessary and regularly sends ships and warplanes into airspace and waters near the island. Beijing has a policy of one day bringing the democratic island under its control.

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