Taiwan said it will treat Chinese drone or jet incursions into its airspace as a “first strike” amid rising tensions between the democratically governed island and Beijing, Bloomberg reported.
The ministry “does not wish for war to break out in the Taiwan Strait, which will be very tragic,” Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said in response to questions from lawmakers on Thursday.
China has sent mainland drones around Taipei twice recently, showing drone deployment would become a usual operation, analysts say.
“The deployment of drones to Taiwan’s air identification zone is a low-cost and effective approach by the PLA to test and consider some new tactics, which will definitely become routine operations,” Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, told the South China Morning Post this week.
China has always claimed sovereignty over Taiwan, an island about 100 miles off the east coast of Beijing, and President Xi Jinping two years ago vowed to pursue “reunification” with Taipei.
Last year, he stressed that China will “continue to strive for peaceful reunification,” but he also said that China reserved the right to use force and “all measures necessary.”
“This is directed solely at interference by outside forces and a few separatists seeking Taiwan independence,” Xi said.
The drone report comes a day after Chiu Kuo-cheng said the delivery of 66 advanced new F-16Vs from the United States has been delayed due to supply-chain disruptions, and that the ministry was working to minimize the damage and “make up deficiencies.”
The U.S. in 2019 approved an $8 billion sale of Lockheed Martin Corp F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan, a deal that would take the island’s F-16 fleet to more than 200 jets, the largest in Asia, to strengthen its defenses in the face of a stepped up threat from China, which claims Taiwan as its own.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.