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In August, the PLA Eastern Theatre Command staged joint training exercises off Taiwan and in their air space. Taiwan’s defence minister says the mainland has sent warships daily since August. Photo: Weibo

‘If this is not provocation, what is it?’: Taiwan says mainland China sends 4-6 warships every day

  • Island’s defence minister says warship presence is in addition to warplane sorties and crossing median line every day since August
  • Beijing responds to Tsai Ing-wen’s Double Tenth Day speech, accusing her of distorting cross-strait relations, exaggerating threats and sabotaging ties
The People’s Liberation Army has deployed between four and six warships in waters close to Taiwan every day since August, the island’s defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Tuesday.
Chiu said Beijing’s deployments were in addition to the PLA sending multiple daily warplane sorties to the self-ruled island’s air defence identification zone or across the median line in the Taiwan Strait – a de facto line separating the island and the mainland.

Calling the actions proof of provocation from the mainland side, he said the island’s military had tried as much as it could to avoid escalating tensions in the Taiwan Strait.

“But even in peacetime, the PLA has dispatched more than 20 warplanes to fly by Taiwan and cross the median line. Each day it has also deployed four to six warships, or more, in waters around us,” Chiu said.


Mainland China military exercises continue around Taiwan beyond announced deadline

Mainland China military exercises continue around Taiwan beyond announced deadline

It is the first time the island’s military has revealed its count of PLA warships deployed close to the island every day – a move by the mainland that observers said could help its forces launch a sea blockade or attack the island in a potential cross-strait conflict.

Chiu’s comments came after Beijing hit out at Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, accusing her of exaggerating PLA threats to the island in a speech on Monday marking the Double Tenth Day – the 111th anniversary of the Republic of China, Taiwan’s official title.

The Taiwan Affairs Office in Beijing said Tsai’s speech distorted the substance of cross-strait relations, exaggerated the threats from the mainland, sabotaged ties between the island and the mainland and endangered peace and stability in the region.

On Monday, Tsai called on Beijing to work with Taipei to find a “mutually agreeable arrangement” to uphold cross-strait peace and stability, saying military confrontation was not an option for the two sides. The TAO said it rejected her call as a push for independence and the “two-state theory”, which presents the two sides as two countries.

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Chiu said the PLA had increased the intensity and frequency of joint combat drills since August.

“Using the excuse of combat readiness training, the Chinese Communist forces have intensified their activities since August on a nearly nonstop basis in areas around Taiwan,” he said before a legislature meeting on Tuesday.

“Even when we celebrated our Double Tenth Day [on Monday], they sent more than 20 warplanes to disturb us, with eight flying into our air defence identification zone.

“If this is not provocation, then what is it?”

In August, the PLA held unprecedented live-fire drills and fired ballistic missiles over Taiwan in response to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, a trip Beijing saw as a violation of its sovereignty and a breach of Washington’s one-China policy.

It also sent warplanes and warships across the median line in the Taiwan Strait. Those crossings have continued in what Taiwanese and US officials say is an effort by the PLA to create a new normal for a future attack on the island.


Taiwan showcases fighter jets as mainland China’s war games continue following Pelosi visit

Taiwan showcases fighter jets as mainland China’s war games continue following Pelosi visit

Beijing has long viewed Taiwan as its own and has vowed to take it under control, by force if necessary. Most countries, including the United States, do not recognise Taiwan as an independent state but Washington is opposed to any attempt to take the island by force.

Observers in Taiwan said the PLA’s deployments and frequent exercises around Taiwan would not only exhaust the island’s forces but their response would also escalate costs.

“With the increase in the number of warplane and warship deployments so close to Taiwan by the PLA, the military here has to promptly respond to every PLA movement that might turn into real combat action against us,” said Chieh Chung, a senior researcher at National Policy Foundation, a think tank affiliated with Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang.

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“This explains why the defence ministry here has asked for a bigger budget in supply and logistic support for next year.”

In late August, the island’s cabinet approved a record NT$586.3 billion (US$18.5 billion) military budget, with NT$133.7 billion allocated for operations and maintenance spending.

Chiu admitted that the present situation in the Taiwan Strait was the toughest he had seen in his military experience.

“We do not hope the chances of conflict increase. Nor would we want a cross-strait war to happen,” he said.