More than 40 Chinese warplanes flew over Taiwan’s air defence zone on Saturday, as part of military drills that Taiwan called “irrational and provocative”.
About 26 Chinese aircraft crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, Taiwan’s ministry of defence said.
It said Beijing was trying to influence Taiwan’s upcoming election.
China said the drills would test its forces’ ability to fight in “combat conditions”, state media reported.
The People’s Liberation Army “launched joint air and sea patrols and military exercises of the navy and air force around the island of Taiwan” on Saturday, military spokesperson Shi Yi is quoted by Xinhua as saying.
The exercises would serve as a “stern warning to the collusion of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatists with foreign elements and their provocations”, he added.
It follows Chinese anger at a recent stopover by Taiwan’s vice president, William Lai, in the United States. China previously launched major military exercises after Nancy Pelosi, then US House speaker, visited Taiwan last year and again when President Tsai Ing-wen met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.
Mr Lai, a frontrunner in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election in January, was visiting the US on a trip to Paraguay.
China said Mr Lai was a “troublemaker” and that it would take “resolute measures” to “safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Despite China’s claim to sovereignty over the island, Taiwan governs itself. It described China’s military exercise as “irrational and provocative behaviour”.
Taiwan said it would dispatch “appropriate forces” to respond “with practical actions” – adding that the national army was using reconnaissance methods to “strictly control” the situation.
“Conducting a military exercise this time under a pretext not only does not help the peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, but also highlights (China’s) militaristic mentality and confirms the hegemonic nature of its military expansion,” Taiwan’s defence ministry said.
Taiwan’s foreign minister said China’s military drills were intended to influence Taiwan’s elections.
“The PRC has made it clear it wants to shape Taiwan’s coming national election,” Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Well, it’s up to our citizens to decide, not the bully next door,” he added.
In Taiwan’s capital Taipei, residents said they were not overly concerned by China’s activities.
“I think it (the drill) is more like a show, it would be quite impossible (for China) to launch a real attack. Although it is still possible but it should be quite difficult for it to happen, ” Huang Chung-en told the BBC.
Chou-Yu-Hsuan said she was “unafraid” as she did not think a war will happen.
“They (China) have been saying it for a long time. My feeling is that if a real war breaks out, there will be a lot of problems. Besides, there is the US,” she added.
Source : BBC