China's image 'damaged' by treatment of Taiwan says expert
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Taiwan has issued a warning to China over incursions into its territorial airspace, as tensions continued to simmer between the two countries. Chinese fighter jets or drones that intrude into Taiwan’s territorial airspace will be regarded as a “first strike”, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said. He did not specify how Taipei would respond if Chinese aircraft breached the zone, beginning 12 nautical miles (22.2 kilometers) from the island’s shores.
Speaking at a meeting of Taiwan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, the minister said: “In the past, we said we won’t be the first to strike, which meant we will not fire the first shot without (China) firing artillery shells or missiles first.
“But now the definition has obviously changed, as China used means such as drones.
“So we have adjusted, and will view any crossing of aerial entities (into Taiwan’s territorial airspace) as a first strike.”
Earlier this year, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the island’s military would take “necessary and forceful countermeasures as appropriate” against what she called Chinese warfare tactics, such as “drone harassment”.
He added: “We will not give China the pretext to create conflict.
“We will not provoke disputes and we will be restrained, yet that does not mean we will not counteract.”
China increasingly sends warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence zone.
The past year has seen a record number of incursions sent into Taiwan’s air defence zone by Chinese warplanes, with aircraft regularly crossing the median line which for years acted as an unofficial barrier between the two sides.
The incursions increased dramatically after Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited the island in August.
While Chinese military activities near Taiwan have decreased since then, they have continued.
Speaking about the incursions, Mr Chiu said: “The median line was supposed to be a tacit agreement for everyone.
“That tacit agreement has been destroyed.”
Taiwan, located less than 110 miles off the coast of China, considers itself a sovereign nation but it has long been claimed by China.
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has said that “reunification” between the two countries is inevitable, refusing to rule out the use of force.
There have been growing concerns that China will attempt to use military power to take control of the island, as the country has built up its military presence near Taiwanese airspace.
The US has sent numerous naval ships into Taiwanese waters as a show of support.
In June, US President Joe Biden issued a stark message to China over Taiwan, saying Chinese President Xi Jinping was “flirting with danger” by flying its warplanes close to Taiwan.
He promised to protect the island militarily if it was attacked.
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