Beijing flew military aircraft near Taiwan to warn against 'independence forces'

People's Liberation Army aircraft conducted exercises near Taiwan's east coast two consecutive days

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Taiwanese F-16 fighter (foreground) and Chinese Xian H-6 bomber. (MOND photo)

Taiwanese F-16 fighter (foreground) and Chinese Xian H-6 bomber. (MOND photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China called its decision to send military aircraft to fly near Taiwan for two consecutive days a warning against independence forces on the island nation, which the Chinese Communist Party seeks to eventually bring under its control — by force if necessary.

People’s Liberation Army mouthpiece China Military on Monday (Feb. 10) quoted military spokesperson Zhang Chunhui (張春暉) as claiming that separatist forces in Taiwan were conspiring to push for the island’s independence and that their schemes would “not win the heart of the people.” He said the military remained on high guard and would fulfill its duties with resolution.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense on Monday confirmed that Beijing had sent military aircraft, including a Xian H-6 bomber, to the Western Pacific off the east coast of Taiwan via the Bashi Channel for an exercise. One bomber briefly crossed the “middle line” in the Taiwan Strait, an unofficial airspace boundary once respected by both sides, but was intercepted and expelled by Taiwanese F-16 fighters, added the ministry.

On the previous day, China deployed its military aircraft to circle half of Taiwan en route to the Miyako Strait, which is near the Japanese island of Okinawa. Taiwan’s defense authorities criticized Beijing for negatively impacting the region’s security and stability.

Following the training exercise on Sunday, China Military wrote that it was “a necessary operation in response to the current security circumstance in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty.” The military has the “determination and capacity to defeat all separatist activities regarding Taiwan independence,” it said.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday asked citizens not to worry about the incidents, as the government had instant surveillance of the Chinese military’s activities. She urged Beijing to focus more on containing the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in the country, which has claimed more than 1,000 lives across China as of Tuesday (Feb. 11).

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) also weighed in on the issue and slammed China for its provocation. “For the second day, People’s Liberation Army Air Forces’ combat aircraft flew close to Taiwan,” tweeted Wu, adding: “Listen, H-6 bombers are useless against [the] coronavirus.”