The appeal comes as 103 Chinese military aircraft and nine naval vessels were discovered around the self-governing island.
Taiwan’s defense ministry has called on China to stop its “military harassment” of the self-ruled island after it spotted more than 100 Chinese military aircraft in the latest in a series of military exercises aimed at asserting Beijing’s claim to sovereignty.
The ministry said it had spotted 103 Chinese military aircraft, including fighter jets, over the sea since Sunday, a number it called a “current high.” It was also said to have discovered nine naval vessels.
The map of Chinese activity over the past 24 hours showed 40 of the planes crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, which had served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides until China began crossing it regularly a year ago.
Other planes flew south of Taiwan through the Bashi Channel, which separates the island from the Philippines.
Beijing claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory and has not ruled out using force to achieve its goal.
China’s activities over the past day posed “serious challenges” to security in the strait and the region, the ministry said in an accompanying statement.
Peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is the shared responsibility of all parties in the region, it said.
“The communist military’s ongoing military harassment can easily lead to a sharp rise in tensions and worsen regional security,” the ministry said, calling on China to “immediately stop such destructive unilateral actions.”
Tony Hu, a former senior director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia at the U.S. Department of Defense, said that because the Chinese activities took place in international airspace, they were not illegal under international law but were “intended to frighten and harm Taiwan.” trying to give in “their muscles”.
He said that while Beijing hoped for a response from Taiwan, this was unlikely.
“Taiwan is keeping an eye on its warning radar and ensuring its anti-aircraft missile system is prepared in case of an emergency [China] take a wrong turn and launch some sort of attack. And that’s enough,” Hu told Al Jazeera. “Taiwan doesn’t go up and match them every time. They go there every now and then just to say, ‘Hey, I’m watching you’.”
In addition to the weekend’s air force operations, Taiwan spotted exercises by the Chinese navy and its aircraft carrier Shandong in the western Pacific last week.
Japan’s defense ministry also said its navy detected six Chinese ships – including frigates, destroyers, a fast combat support ship and the Shandong – sailing through waters about 650 km (400 miles) south of Miyakojima island, which lies east of Taiwan.
It was also confirmed that jets and helicopters had been spotted taking off and landing from Shandong.
A regional security official, who asked not to be named due to sensitivity, told Reuters the Navy’s maneuvers were the “biggest in years” and had increased pressure across the region.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry noted last week that July to September is traditionally the busiest time for Chinese military exercises along the coast.
China has not officially commented on the recent exercises in the region.
In April, Beijing held military drills to simulate encircling the island after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California. Large-scale exercises were also held after McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taiwan in August 2022.
With reporting by Erin Hale in Taipei
Source : www.aljazeera.com