Twenty-eight Chinese air force aircraft, including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers, entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) last Tuesday, the largest number to date reported by the Chinese-claimed island’s government.
The incident came shortly after Group of Seven leaders issued a joint statement scolding China for a series of issues and underscoring the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, comments China condemned as “slander”.
Asked about the number of aircraft involved last week, Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said what he termed exercises were “a necessary action for the current security situation across the Taiwan Strait and safeguarding national sovereignty”.
Taiwan independence means war, he added, reiterating the sharper language the ministry began using in January.
“The United States should fully understand that China’s development and growth cannot be stopped by any force,” Ren said.
“The Democratic Progressive Party authorities must be soberly aware that the future of Taiwan lies in national reunification,” he added, referring to Taiwan’s ruling party.
“Any attempt to ‘rely on the United States for independence’ is doomed to failure.”
China believes that Taiwan’s democratically-elected government is moving the island towards a declaration of formal independence, although Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.
Most Taiwanese have shown no interest in being ruled by China.
The United States is Taiwan’s strongest backer on the international stage and main arms supplier, despite the lack of official diplomatic recognition, to Beijing’s anger.
Taiwan has complained of repeated harassment by Chinese aircraft in its air defence zone over the past year or so.