China says its military held combat ‘readiness patrol’ around Taiwan
Beijing, June 1 (EFE).- China Wednesday said it conducted a combat “readiness patrol” in the waters and airspace around Taiwan in response to the “collusion” between the United States and “independence” forces of the island.
In a statement, military spokesperson Senior Colonel Shi Yi said the US had made frequent moves on the Taiwan question, “saying one thing and doing another, openly and secretly emboldening and supporting the Taiwan independence forces.”
Shi warned that it would “put Taiwan in a dangerous situation and bring serious consequences to itself.”
“Taiwan is a part of China. The troops of the PLA Eastern Theater Command have been continuously strengthening combat-readiness training and improving their duty-performing capabilities to resolutely thwart any external interference and secessionist attempts for Taiwan independence,” the spokesperson said.
China claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island nation and has not ruled out annexing it by force, if necessary. Beijing has stepped up its military activities around the island.
The Chinese military statement vaguely said the exercises were held “recently” and did not give the exact date of the military drills.
But Taiwan Monday reported one of the “largest incursions” this year by China’s air force in its air defense zone that forced the island to scramble 30 aircraft, marking the latest episode in s series of provocative military activities in the tense region.
The Taiwan defense ministry said the latest Chinese mission included 22 fighters and electronic warfare, early warning and antisubmarine aircraft, the state-run Central News Agency reported.
It was the largest incursion since Taiwan reported 39 Chinese aircraft in its ADIZ on Jan 23.
The latest uptick in the tension came as US Senator Tammy Duckworth was in Taiwan for a three-day visit to meet President Tsai Ing-wen.
Duckworth is on the first trip by an American official after President Joe Biden vowed to intervene militarily to protect the island in case of a China attack that angered China.
President Biden, on May 23, said the US military would intervene if China tried to annex Taiwan forcibly, drawing a sharp reaction from Beijing.
Biden warned the Chinese “are already flirting with danger right now by flying so close and all the maneuvers that are undertaken.”
China said the US was “playing with fire” by supporting “Taiwan independence separatist forces.”
Chinese State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Zhu Fenglian said Washington was “using the ‘Taiwan card’ to contain China, and will itself get burned.”
She urged the US “to stop any remarks or actions” that violate principles of ties between the two countries.
The island is also one of the primary sources of the conflict between China and the US, mainly because Washington is Taiwan’s biggest arms supplier.
The island was the refuge of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) forces after losing the civil war with the Communists, who, since then, have claimed sovereignty over the territory.
In 1979, Washington broke its official diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing. However, the American Institute in Taiwan operates as a de facto embassy in Taipei. EFE