An official in China said Wednesday that China’s recent increase in military exercises and warplane missions near Taiwan, which have raised concerns in the region, were necessary to defend the country’s sovereignty and territory.
Military of China flew 56 planes off Taiwan’s southwest coast in a single day earlier this month, setting a new single-day record that came after four days of sustained pressure involving 149 flights. Despite the fact that they were all flying in international airspace, the display raised concerns that any misstep could lead to an unintended escalation in the region.
Taiwan sees China’s actions as a threat to use military force to seize control of the island it claims as its own. In 1949, the two sides split during a civil war and have had no official contact since.
According to Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Cabinet’s Taiwan Affairs Office, the manoeuvres were carried out to “fundamentally safeguard the overall interests of the Chinese nation and the vital interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.”
“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.
Taiwan’s independence-leaning democratically elected government, as well as its relations with “external forces,” are to blame for the rising tensions, according to Ma.
According to outside observers, the military manoeuvres are intended to wear down Taiwan’s physical defence capabilities while also turning the public against its leaders through psychological warfare.
Taiwan, a close ally of the United States, dispatched fighter jets to intercept the Chinese planes and activated its missile air defence systems.
It is also bolstering its defences by purchasing new technology from the United States and developing domestic systems, such as submarines.