TAIPEI: China blamed the United States on Monday for increased tensions over Taiwan and vowed to “smash” any separatist plots, as the island complained of the largest ever incursion by China’s air force into its air defence zone at 52 aircraft.

Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained for a year or more of repeated missions by China’s air force near the democratically governed island, often in the southwestern part of its air defence zone close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands.

But since Friday, when China marked its national day, the country has embarked upon a massive ramping up of its missions, with almost 150 aircraft flying into the defence zone over the space of four days.

The latest mission included 34 J-16 fighters and 12 nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, which all flew in an area in the vicinity of the Pratas Islands, according to a map provided by the ministry.

Taiwanese fighter jets scrambled to warn away the Chinese planes, while missile systems were deployed to monitor them, it added.

The United States on Sunday urged China to stop its “provocative” military activities near Taiwan, while the island’s government has also condemned Beijing.

China’s foreign ministry, responding to the US statement, said it was the United States which was being provocative and harming regional peace, with its arms sales to Taiwan and warships sailing regularly through the Taiwan Strait.

“China is resolutely opposed to this and takes necessary countermeasures,” it added.

“Engaging in Taiwan independence is a dead end. China will take all steps needed and firmly smash any Taiwan independence plots,” the ministry said. “China’s determination and will to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering.” The United States should stop supporting and “inflating” Taiwan separatist forces, it added.

China has stepped up military and political pressure to try to force Taiwan to accept Chinese rule.

Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedom and democracy.

The government said on Monday it was actively communicating with friendly countries to jointly contain Beijing’s “malicious provocations”.

Taiwan has termed China’s activities as “grey zone” warfare, designed to wear down Taiwanese forces and test their abilities.

A Taiwan-based source familiar with security matters in the region said earlier on Monday the Chinese planes were possibly conducting simulated attacks on US carrier fleets, drills the source said that China has repeatedly carried out near Taiwan in the past few months.

The US Department of Defence said China’s increasing military activities near Taiwan were “destabilising and increase the risk of miscalculation”.

“Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” it added.

The carrier USS Ronald Reagan entered the South China Sea late last month. On Monday Japan’s defence ministry said that ship, along with another carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, had carried out multinational joint exercises in waters southwest of Okinawa, though it gave no exact location.

Along with US and Japanese ships, vessels from Britain, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand took part in those exercises, the ministry said.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Police excesses
Updated 13 Aug, 2022

Police excesses

Crass thuggery and victimisation of ordinary citizens are unlikely to earn govt plaudits from any quarter.
Afghan cleric’s killing
13 Aug, 2022

Afghan cleric’s killing

THAT a suicide bomber belonging to the self-styled Islamic State group managed to target a senior Taliban cleric in...
No room for hockey
13 Aug, 2022

No room for hockey

THERE have been accusations and clarifications as the blame game rumbles on. Yet despite workers of the PTI ...
Militancy redux
Updated 12 Aug, 2022

Militancy redux

There is fear and confusion all around, and it is for the state to bring clarity to the situation.
Distorting history
12 Aug, 2022

Distorting history

WHEN history is co-opted by ideologically overzealous elements, expect the facts to die a quick death, and...
Dengue danger
12 Aug, 2022

Dengue danger

WITH rains continuing across most of the country, a dengue outbreak can quickly become a major headache for health...