Beijing warned Taiwan on Thursday that “independence means war” and that its armed forces stepped up activities were in response to provocation and foreign interference.
Taiwan, claimed by China as a province of its own territory, reported multiple Chinese fighter jets and bombers entering its southwestern air defense identification zone last weekend, prompting Washington to urge Beijing to stop pressuring Taiwan.
China believes Taiwan’s democratically-elected government is moving the island towards a declaration of formal independence, though Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.
Asked at a monthly news briefing about the air force’s recent activities, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Taiwan is an inseparable part of China.
“The military activities carried out by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait are necessary actions to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty and security,” he said.
“They are a solemn response to external interference and provocations by ‘Taiwan independence’ forces,” he added.
Wu said a “handful” of people in Taiwan were seeking the island’s independence, underlining, ”we warn those ‘Taiwan independence’ elements: those who play with fire will burn themselves, and ‘Taiwan independence’ means war,” he added.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry reported six Chinese air force aircraft, including four J-10 fighter jets, flew into its air defense zone on Thursday, close to the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands at the top end of the South China Sea.
The weekend Chinese incursions coincided with a U.S. carrier battle group entering the disputed South China Sea to promote “freedom of the seas.”