Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said Tuesday that the first Chinese drone incursions over Taiwanese territory would be considered attacks against Taiwan.
Previously, missiles or artillery fire were considered attacks. However, the frequency of Chinese drones flying in Taiwan’s airspace is increasing, and the minister explained that it is causing “a lot of problems.”
In addition, since Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August, the People’s Liberation Army has sent between 4 and 6 warships in close proximity to Taiwanese waters.
The minister said those fighter jet incursions close to or over the median dividing line between China and Taiwan have also increased sharply.
Minister Chiu said these land and sea incursions are considered provocation and harassment by the People’s Liberation Army. However, despite constant Chinese threats, the Taiwanese military does not intend to escalate tensions in the Strait.
Chiu said, “Even in peacetime, the PLA has sent more than 20 fighter jets to fly over Taiwan and cross the median line. Every day it has also deployed four to six warships, or more, in the waters around us.”
The issue first came up during a hearing of the Legislature’s Foreign and Domestic Defense Committee on October 5, when the minister said the incursion of Chinese fighter jets over Taiwanese territory would be taken as a “first strike” against the country.
The defense minister said, “Taiwan’s military has its red line when it comes to national defense,” adding that the country will take “countermeasures.” However, he did not clarify what kind of countermeasures.
At the Legislature’s questioning session on Tuesday, Chiu provided more details on what Taiwan will consider a “first strike,” including drone incursions from China.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, the 69-year-old defense minister told reporters that the situation between China and Taiwan is more intense than ever. He added that the situation across the Strait is dire and at a degree of severity unprecedented in his many years in the military.
“Even when we celebrated our Double Tenth Day [on Monday], they sent more than 20 fighter jets to annoy us, eight of which flew into our air defense zone. If this is not provocation, then what is?” added Chiu.
The defense minister’s comments come the day after Taiwan’s national celebration of the 111th anniversary of the Republic of China.
President Tsai Ing-wen gave a significant speech yesterday in which she noted the need to increase precision missile production and develop asymmetric warfare more intensively to respond firmly to Beijing’s growing military threats and harassment.
“I want to make it clear to the Beijing authorities that armed confrontation is absolutely not an option for our two sides,” the president said.
“They should not mistake that there is room for compromise in the Taiwanese people’s loyalty to democracy and freedom, and thus try to divide Taiwanese society by exploiting the fierce competition between our political parties,” Tsai added.
The president made it clear that Taiwan is open to dialogue with Beijing, as long as “there is rationality, equality and mutual respect, we are open to working with the Beijing authorities to find a mutually acceptable agreement to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. This is our shared responsibility.”
In response to Tsai’s speech, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spokeswoman Mao Ning said, “we are willing to create a broad space for peaceful reunification, but we will never leave any room for Taiwan independence and secession activities.” Beijing’s speech asserts that Taiwan is part of China and does not recognize the island as an independent nation.
CCP leader Xi Jinping mentioned, for the first time in a New Year’s speech, that he desires reunification with Taiwan. “The complete reunification of our homeland is an aspiration shared by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” he said on January 1, 2022.
In August, the CCP released a white paper on the situation in Taiwan. The publication notes that Xi Jinping’s regime wants peaceful reunification. However, it would not renounce using military force to achieve the goal.
This apparent contradiction fits with the deceitful and manipulative nature of all levels of the CCP. With growing factional struggles within the party, rampant crises threatening the economic livelihood of regime members, plus social discontent among the Chinese over subjugation to the ‘zero-COVID” policy, it does not have many more cards left to play for world hegemony against the United States. Taiwan represents a chance for the CCP to advance in its global dominance.
On the other hand, Xi also knows, as commander-in-chief of the People’s Liberation Army, that Chinese military forces are not yet ready to launch an ambitious deployment on TaiwEarlierlier this year, he gave the order for the military to deploy in regions of China where there is growing social instability.
Moreover, according to foreign media specialized in China, Xi Jinping has been cracking down on CCP members conspiring against him and using the advance on Taiwan politically within the party’s power struggles.
In this sense, the Taiwanese president’s statements open a possibility of dialogue with the CCP, as long as it respects the island and its democratic system of government and as an independent nation. Moreover, it could represent an opportunity for Xi Jinping to show his true intentions toward Taiwan.