US assures ‘rock-solid’ support for Taiwan after China flies warplanes

Taipei, Jan 24 (efe-epa).- At least 13 Chinese warplanes have entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, its defense ministry said on Sunday, in the latest military incursion by China that prompted the United States to reaffirm its “rock-solid” support for the island.

“The United States notes with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC (Chinese) attempts to intimidate its neighbors, including Taiwan,” the State Department in a statement.

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan’s democratically elected representatives.”

The US State Department in the statement said America would continue “deepening our ties with democratic Taiwan” and would stand with “friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The statement came after the Taiwanese defense ministry said a Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, eight nuclear-capable Xian H-6K bombers, and four Shenyang J-16 fighter jets violated the airspace in the southwest of the island.

The ministry said the Taiwan Air Force responded to the incursion effectively and deployed fighter jets to monitor Chinese warplanes and mobilized air defense assets until the Chinese bombers eventually left the air defense identification zone.

According to the official CNA news agency, the number of incursions into Taiwan by Chinese military aircraft has increased in recent months.

In October last year, at least 19 Chinese military aircraft entered the Taiwanese defense zone. In September, Chinese J-16 fighters crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait.

Tensions between Beijing and Taipei escalated considerably during the tenure of former United States President Donald Trump, who prioritized strengthening relations with Taiwan.

Despite having no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, the US has continued its exchanges, including arms sales and sending senior officials to the country.

The administration of new President Joe Biden has maintained the tenor of the support as the State Department in the statement said it would “continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan.”

“We will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability. Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.”

In August last year, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar became the highest-ranking US official to make an official visit to Taipei since 1979 when Washington broke off ties with Taipei.

Relations have since been informal between the countries after the US recognized the People’s Republic of China and established formal ties with Beijing.

Taiwan is considered sovereign territory with its own government and political system under the name of the Republic of China since the end of the civil war between nationalists and communists in 1949.

However, Beijing considers it a rebel province that must be reunified with the rest of the country and has said on several occasions that it intends to recover the territory by force if necessary. EFE-EPA


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