Taiwan warns it will fight to ‘the very last day’ if attacked as China steps up its military activity nearby – Business Insider

  • Taiwan’s foreign minister said the self-ruled island will fight to the end in a war with China.
  • His comments come as China steps up its military activities around Taiwan.
  • This week, China sent a carrier group, as well as dozens of military aircraft, to drill nearby.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A senior Taiwanese official warned Wednesday that the self-ruled island will fight to “the very last day” in a conflict with China, which has increased its military activities nearby.

“We are willing to defend ourselves, that’s without any question,” Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu said, according to the AP.

“We fill fight a war if we need to fight a war, and if we need to defend ourselves to the very last day, then we will defend ourselves to the very last day,” he added.

The Chinese military sent an aircraft carrier group led by the Liaoning to drill in waters near Taiwan on Monday to strengthen the Chinese navy’s “capability to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests,” a Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesman said.

The spokesman added that such exercises will continue and happen regularly.

Also on Monday, 10 Chinese military aircraft, including four J-10 and four J-16 fighter jets, a Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and a KJ-500 early warning plane, entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, CNN reported.

Commenting on Monday’s aerial incursions and carrier drill, Shi Hong, the executive chief editor of the Chinese magazine Shipborne Weapons, told the Chinese state-affiliated Global Times that the “the exercise showed that the [People’s Liberation Army] is capable of surrounding the island of Taiwan.”

Shi added that the drills send a deterrent message to not only Taiwan but foreign forces, such as the US and its allies, that might take action to support Taiwan in a contingency.

The US is not obligated to come to Taiwan’s defense, but it considers the autonomous democratic island to be a partner, often criticizing Chinese efforts to pressure or intimidate Taiwan, and has long supported Taiwan’s self-defense through arms sales.

The Chinese military aircraft flights near Taiwan have become regular occurrences. Taiwan’s defense ministry said Wednesday that 15 Chinese aircraft, including 12 fighter jets, entered the ADIZ, according to Reuters.

Taiwan responds to these frequent, almost-daily incursions by scrambling its own fighters to intercept the Chinese aircraft.

Experts say there are multiple explanations for China’s military activities around Taiwan.

“I view it as both a military demonstration of the PLA’s prowess and a political statement about what Chinese leaders regard as their position on Taiwan’s autonomy,” RAND Corporation senior international/defense researcher Timothy Heath said.

He explained that such activities also send a domestic political message that Chinese leaders still take the goal of reunification seriously.

Then there is the training aspect of China’s military moves. He said these exercises do not appear to be “a prelude to a coming operation,” but they are practicing.

China’s military moves near Taiwan come as some US military leaders have raised concerns that China might opt to forcefully retake control of the island in the not-too-distant future.

The US Navy admiral leading Indo-Pacific Command told a Senate committee last month that “the threat is manifest during this decade.” Another admiral expected to be his successor argued a few days later that this particular “problem is much closer to us than most think.”

Last month, the Taiwanese defense minister said that “China can launch an attack, but its considerations will have to go beyond winning the first fight.”

“I always tell my peers to stop asking how many days we need to hold out,” he said, according to Newsweek. “The question is how many days does [China] want to fight? We’ll keep them company for as many days as they want to fight.”

While Taiwan is a priority national interest for China, the country’s military activities in the area are also believed to be directed at the US.

The Global Times specifically pointed out Monday that the Liaoning aircraft carrier formation’s exercises near Taiwan came at a “time when US warships, including an aircraft carrier, made pointed provocations near China.”

The article expressed concerns about the Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group’s presence in the South China Sea, as well as the destroyer USS Mustin’s movements in the East China Sea.

The Chinese military expressed additional frustration on Wednesday, acusing the US of negatively impacting peace and stability in the region, after a US Navy destroyer sailed through the Taiwan Strait. China argued the move sent an inappropriate message to the pro-independence forces in Taiwan.

The Navy said that the destroyer’s “transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” adding that the US military “will continue to fly, sail, and operate anywhere international law allows.”

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Taiwan warns it will fight to ‘the very last day’ if attacked as China steps up its military activity nearby – Business Insider

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