Taiwan’s defense minister warned that China’s military should be alert to “sudden incursions” into areas near its territory this year as tensions rise across the Taiwan Strait. China has stepped up its military activities around Taiwan in recent years, including almost daily intrusions of its air force into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. But last year, it shot down a civilian drone that entered airspace near an island off the coast of China.
Answering questions from lawmakers in parliament, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Monday the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) might find excuses to enter areas close to Taiwan’s territorial air and sea space as the self-governing island steps up its military exchanges with the United States, to Beijing’s ire. The PLA might make a “sudden entry” into Taiwan’s contiguous zone and get close to its territory, which the island defines as 22km (12 nautical miles) from its coast, he said.
Chiu said the PLA dispatches about 10 planes or ships to areas near Taiwan every day. Some have crossed the center line of the Taiwan Strait, which has traditionally served as an unofficial buffer. China claims Taiwan’s autonomy as its own and has not refrained from using force to bring Taiwan under Chinese control if necessary. Taiwan adamantly rejects China’s sovereignty claims, insisting that only its people can decide their future.