BEIJING (Reuters) – A series of Chinese military drills near Taiwan were designed to send a clear message to the self-ruled island and China will take further steps if Taiwan independence forces persist in doing as they please, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.
Over the past year or so, China has ramped up military drills around democratic Taiwan, including flying bombers and other military aircraft around the island. Last week China drilled in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
China claims Taiwan as its sacred territory, and its hostility towards the island has grown since the 2016 election as president of Tsai Ing-wen from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.
China has been issuing increasingly strident calls for Taiwan to toe the line, even as Tsai has pledged to maintain the status quo and keep the peace.
Speaking at a regular news briefing, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said the message the People’s Liberation Army was sending with its exercises was “extremely clear”.
“We have the resolute will, full confidence and sufficient ability to foil any form of Taiwan independence separatist plots and moves and to defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ma said.
“If Taiwan independence forces continue to do as they please, we will take further steps,” he added, without giving details.
The military’s drills are aimed at protecting peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the interests of people on both sides of it, Ma said.
Amid the growing tension with China, Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Tuesday it will simulate repelling an invading force, emergency repairs of a major air base and using civilian-operated drones as part of military exercises starting next week.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry
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