Taiwan’s tensions with China are the “worst in 40 years” as recent moves suggest that the US-backed island could be close to declaring independence – a step that could push Beijing into direct action China has warned war could be imminent, days after its airforce deployed a record number of warplanes into Taiwan’s airspace as the conflict intensifies.
Earlier this week, 34 Chinese J-16 fighters escorted 12 nuclear-capable H-6 bombers into their protected territory. It brought the total of Chinese aircraft sent into Taiwan’s defense zone to almost 150, a move slammed as “irresponsible” and “provocative”.
The incursions from nuclear-capable Chinese warplanes have ratcheted up tensions over the tiny US-backed island. Tensions between the two nations are at their worst in 40 years, Taiwan’s defense minister has now said.
Chiu Kuo-cheng’s comments came Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen wrote that there would be “catastrophic” consequences for peace and democracy in Asia if the island were to fall to China. They have not ruled out the possible use of force to “achieve unification”.
Taiwan broke away from the mainland as communists seized power back in 1949. Recent government moves suggest that the island could be close to formally declaring independence. That is a step that could push Beijing into direct action, it has been reported.
Western allies of Taiwan have expressed their concern at China’s open display of military might. It is widely feared any form of armed confrontation could quickly escalate into a global conflict. President Tsai added that Taiwan would “do whatever it takes to defend itself”.
In the Global Times, a newspaper that was widely seen as a tool of the Chinese government, an editorial mockingly stated: “It seems that the Taiwanese authorities are really scared.”
Warning that a face-off between the superpowers could be just days away, the piece went on: “The strategic collusion between the US and Japan and the DPP authorities is becoming more audacious, and the situation across the Taiwan Straits has almost lost any room for maneuver teetering on the edge of a face-off, creating a sense of urgency that the war may be triggered at any time”.
The chilling message ended: “If the US and the DPP authorities do not take the initiative to reverse the current situation, the Chinese mainland’s military punishment for ‘Taiwan independence’ secessionist forces will be triggered. Time will prove that this warning is not just a verbal threat.”
In a defiant statement, Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said: “If China is going to launch a war against Taiwan, we will fight to the end, and that is our commitment.” US President Joe Biden said his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had agreed to abide by the “Taiwan agreement”.