The threat of force from China remains, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Thursday, although the biggest military exercises ever held by Beijing around the island appear to be winding down.
In protest of a visit to Taiwan last week by the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (USA), Nancy Pelosi, China launched ballistic missiles and mobilized several planes and warships in recent days, to simulate maritime attacks and aerial.
China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, said yesterday it would maintain patrols, but “has completed several tasks” near Taiwan, signaling a possible end to the war games even as it maintains pressure.
Taiwan has also been holding relatively small-scale annual exercises, scheduled before the controversial visit and intended to prepare to repel an invasion.
“At this time, the threat of Chinese military force has not abated,” Tsai Ing-wen told Air Force officials, according to a statement from her office.
Taiwan will not escalate conflict or provoke disputes, she said, adding, “We will firmly defend our sovereignty and national security and adhere to the line of defense of democracy and freedom.”
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the number of warships near the midline of the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial protection zone, was “quite reduced” from previous days. But several Chinese navy ships carry out missions off the east coast of Taiwan and near the Japanese island of Yonaguni, the closest to the territory, about 100 kilometers away.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that it had detected 21 Chinese military aircraft and six ships in and around the Taiwan Strait, of which 11 aircraft crossed the median line.
The number is lower than the 36 planes and 10 ships detected the previous day, when 17 planes crossed the median line.
Taiwan has been under threat of Chinese invasion since 1949, when the defeated Nationalist Republic of China government fled to the island after Mao Zedong’s Communist Party won a civil war.
China says relations with Taiwan are an internal matter and reserves the right to bring the island under its control, by force if necessary.
The democratically elected government of Taiwan claims that the People’s Republic of China has never ruled the island, so it has no right to decide its future or claim it for itself.
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Translated to english by RJ983
From Brazil, by EBC News