China: Military drills, flights were needed to defend Taiwan

Oct 12, 2021, 10:54 PM | Updated: 10:57 pm
FILE - In this undated file photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, a Chinese PLA J-16 fi...

FILE - In this undated file photo released by the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, a Chinese PLA J-16 fighter jet flies in an undisclosed location. China says a recent increase in military exercises and warplane missions near Taiwan are necessary to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity. (Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP, File)

(Taiwan Ministry of Defense via AP, File)

BEIJING (AP) — China’s recent increase in military exercises and warplane missions near Taiwan — which have raised concerns around the region — were necessary to defend the nation’s sovereignty and territory, a Chinese official said Wednesday.

China’s military flew 56 planes off the southwest coast of Taiwan on a single day earlier this month, a single-day record that capped four days of a sustained pressure campaign involving 149 flights. All were in international airspace, but the display raised fears that any misstep could provoke an unintended escalation in the region.

Taiwan views China’s moves as advertising its threat to bring the island it claims as its own territory under its control by military means as necessary. The sides split amid civil war in 1949 and have no official contacts.

The purpose of the maneuvers was to “fundamentally safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation and the vital interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” said Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office.

“The People’s Liberation Army exercises are necessary actions to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ma told reporters at a biweekly news conference in Beijing.

Ma blamed actions by Taiwan’s independence-leaning democratically elected government and its relations with “external forces” for heightening tensions.

Outside observers say the military maneuvers are intended to degrade Taiwan’s physical defense capabilities through wear and tear, while turning the citizenry against their leaders through a form of psychological warfare.

Taiwan, a close U.S. ally, scrambled jets to intercept the Chinese aircraft and activated its missile air defense systems. It is also working to boost its defenses by buying new technology from the U.S. and developing domestic systems, including submarines.

Public opinion surveys show the vast majority of Taiwanese in favor of maintaining their de facto independent status without giving in to China’s demands for political unification.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on Sunday vowed to defend the island from China’s rising pressure after a week of unprecedented tensions with Beijing.

She spoke a day after Chinese leader Xi Jinping said annexing Taiwan “must be realized,” while saying that was best brought about by peaceful means.

However, Xi also added that, “No one should underestimate the Chinese people’s strong determination, will and capability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

While such rhetoric is familiar, many see an increased possibility of conflict arising from Xi’s desire to resolve what China refers to as the “Taiwan question,” and the Taiwanese leadership’s resolve to maintain the status quo of de facto independence.

Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng earlier this month called the situation the most severe in the 40 years since his enlistment and that he believed China would have “comprehensive” capabilities to invade Taiwan by 2025.

In a talk this week with journalists, political scientist Shelley Rigger said while the situation seemed more intense, it was more likely being used as a deterrent.

“So trying to deter Taiwan from imaging that there is some kind of opportunity to make a change in its own position and also trying to deter the U.S. from providing support or creating the impression in Taiwan that this might be a moment for Taiwan to push the envelope harder,” said Rigger, a longtime observer of Taiwanese politics at Davidson College in North Carolina.

“I also think that there is an element of the PLA kind of testing its own operational capabilities, and so its kind of killing two birds with one stone — you’re sending a strong message to Taiwan and to the U.S. and you’re also getting a lot of flight hours at a minimum for your military personnel,” Rigger said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Negotiators optimistic about progress on Iran nuclear deal

VIENNA (AP) — Top negotiators in renewed talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal indicated Sunday that they are optimistic about the possibility of reaching an agreement to impose limits on Tehran’s uranium enrichment. “We stand 5 minutes or 5 seconds from the finish line,” Russian Ambassador Mikhail Ulyanov told reporters outside Vienna’s Palais […]
12 hours ago
Associated Press

Florida prosecutor vows to fight Gov. DeSantis suspension

ST. PETERSURG, Fla. (AP) — A Florida prosecutor vowed Sunday to fight his suspension from office by Gov. Ron DeSantis over his promise not to enforce the state’s 15-week abortion ban and support for gender transition treatments for minors. Andrew Warren, a Democrat suspended last week from his twice-elected post as state attorney in Hillsborough […]
12 hours ago
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, center, talks with residents that have been displaced by floodwater...
Associated Press

More storms forecasted for flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — The National Weather Service extended a flood watch through Sunday evening for areas of eastern Kentucky ravaged by high water more than a week ago and said there’s a threat of thunderstorms in the region for much of the coming week. There’s a “persistent threat of thunderstorms” through Thursday that could […]
12 hours ago
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Bad Bunny, left, and Brad Pitt in a scene from "Bullet T...
Associated Press

Brad Pitt’s ‘Bullet Train’ pulls into station with $30.1M

NEW YORK (AP) — The stylized action romp “Bullet Train,” starring Brad Pitt, arrived with a $30.1 million opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday, as the last big movie of Hollywood’s summer recovery landed in theaters. The “Bullet Train” debut for Sony Pictures was solid but unspectacular for a movie that cost $90 million […]
12 hours ago
This booking photo provided by the Galveston Police Department on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022, shows Migue...
Associated Press

4 killed when SUV hits golf cart at Texas intersection

GALVESTON, Texas (AP) — Four people riding in a golf cart were killed — including two juveniles — when an allegedly intoxicated man driving an SUV ran a stop sign at an intersection in Southeast Texas, police said. Miguel Espinoza, 45, has been charged with four counts of intoxication manslaughter in the crash about 11:30 […]
12 hours ago
FILE - In this May 2, 2010 photo, Institute of Marine Mammal Sciences researcher Justin Main takes ...
Associated Press

1st sea turtle nest found on Mississippi beach since 2018

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (AP) — Beach crews have found the first sea turtle nest on the Mississippi mainland in four years. A Harrison County Sand Beach crew that was cleaning up found what appeared to be turtle tracks just east of the Pass Christian Harbor, officials said. They protected the area and called the Institute […]
12 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
China: Military drills, flights were needed to defend Taiwan