Taiwan condemns China for recent military exercises near the island

Taiwan condemns China for recent military exercises near the island

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TAIPEI/BEIJING, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Taiwan condemned China on Monday for conducting its second military combat drills around the island in less than a month, with the defense ministry saying it had detected 57 Chinese planes.

China views democratically-ruled Taiwan as its territory and is stepping up military, political and economic pressure to assert these claims.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said its forces conducted “joint combat readiness patrols and actual combat training” in the sea and airspace around Taiwan, focusing on ground strikes and naval assaults.

The aim is to test joint combat capabilities and “resolutely counter the provocative actions of foreign powers and Taiwan independence separatist forces,” it added in a brief statement late Sunday.

Taiwan’s presidential office said China was making “baseless accusations” and strongly condemned the drills, saying the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait and the region are the shared responsibility of both Taiwan and China.

Taiwan’s position is very clear as it will neither escalate conflicts nor provoke disputes, but firmly defend its sovereignty and security, the service said in a statement.

“The National Army has a close eye on the situation in the Taiwan Strait and the surrounding area and is responding calmly. Our people can rest easy,” the statement added.

On Monday, Taiwan’s defense ministry said it had detected 57 Chinese aircraft and four naval vessels operating around the island in the past 24 hours, including 28 aircraft that flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone.

Some of those 28 crossed the median of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial buffer between the two countries, among them Su-30 and J-16 fighter jets, while two nuclear-capable H-6 bombers flew toward southern Taiwan, the ministry said card.

Similar studies in China end of last monthTaiwan said 43 Chinese planes crossed the median line.

China, which has never shied away from using force to bring the island under its control, has carried out regular military incursions into the waters and airspace near Taiwan over the past three years.

It held military exercises around Taiwan last August after a visit to Taipei by Nancy Pelosi, then the speaker of the US House of Representatives.

Taiwan strongly rejects Beijing’s claims to sovereignty, saying only the island’s 23 million people can decide its future.

Beijing was particularly angered by US support for Taiwan, including arms sales.

Like most nations, the United States has no formal diplomatic ties to Taiwan, but is the island’s most important arms supplier and international supporter.

Reporting by Sarah Wu and Beijing editorial staff; Written by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Clarence Fernandez

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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