A senior member of the Taiwanese government has asked Australia for help over the small, independent territory fears an imminent invasion by China.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said countries such as Australia should develop closer ties with Taiwan as it faced a growing threat from its giant neighbor, which has always considered Taiwan part of its territory and not an independent nation.
Taiwan had complained that China sent huge numbers of military planes into the skies in the past year, rising to nearly 100 raids in the past three days.
The Defense Ministry said 39 PLA planes entered the zone last Saturday alone, a development that has seen Taiwan scramble its own jets in readiness for battle.
A Taiwanese F-16 jet conducts a training exercise in September. The tiny nation was forced to scramble its jets last weekend in response to Chinese flights into the air defense identification zone
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu urged countries such as Australia to develop closer ties with Taiwan as it faced a growing threat from China
One of the Chinese planes that flew into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, posted on Taiwan Ministry of Defense Twitter account
Taiwanese soldiers stand guard and watch a military helicopter carry the country’s flag over a military camp
“If China starts a war against Taiwan, we will fight to the end, and that’s our promise,” Mr Wu told ABC’s China Tonight program.
“I’m sure if China launches an attack on Taiwan, they too will suffer greatly.”
Mr Wu said the support of “like-minded” countries such as the United States and Australia, which do not formally recognize Taiwan as a sovereign nation, was needed to curtail China’s territorial ambitions in the region.
“We would like to engage in security or intelligence exchanges with other like-minded partners, including Australia, so that Taiwan is better prepared for the war situation,” he said.
‘And so far, our relations with Australia’ [are] very good and we appreciate that.’
In an Oct. 2 Tweet about the number of Chinese planes entering the Taiwanese zone, Mr. Wu said, “Threatening? Of course. It’s strange that the #PRC doesn’t bother making excuses anymore.”
Taiwan recently welcomed the announcement of AUKUS, the nuclear submarine agreement between the US, UK and Australia.
“We are pleased to see Taiwan’s like-minded partners – the United States and the UK and Australia – working more closely to acquire more advanced defense items so that we can defend the Indo-Pacific,” Mr Wu said.
He welcomed the fact that Australia would “become more responsible for maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific”.
Australia has traditionally taken a diplomatic approach to relations between China and Taiwan, not openly supporting one over the other, but instead pushing for “dialogue” between the pair to resolve areas of disagreement.
But after recent ministerial meetings between the US and Australia, both sides declared their intention “to strengthen ties with Taiwan, which is a leading democracy and a vital partner for both countries.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping leads a military parade. China has defended military flights near Taiwan to protect its sovereignty
Taiwanese soldiers during Han Kuang’s annual military exercise in September
The US State Department has released a statement on China’s increased incursions into Taiwan’s airspace.
“The United States is deeply concerned about the provocative military activity of the People’s Republic of China near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risking miscalculation and undermining regional peace and stability,” the statement said.
The US has a lasting interest in peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining ‘adequate self-defense capabilities’.
“The US commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and helps to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and in the region.”
Taiwan’s foreign ministry thanked the United States for its concern and said China was ramping up tension in the Indo-Pacific region.
“In the face of China’s challenges, our country’s government has always been committed to improving our self-defense capabilities and resolutely protecting Taiwan’s democracy, freedom, peace and prosperity,” it said.
Taiwan said a record 30 Chinese planes flew near its territory last Saturday, a move it interprets as China preparing for war.
China has not provided justification for the increased air activity, but has previously said the missions were undertaken to assert its sovereignty over the territory and ensure “collusion” between Taiwan and the United States.
China has never ceded sovereignty to Taiwan since Chiang Kai-shek’s troops and about two million Republic of China soldiers withdrew to the island in 1949 after Communist leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in Beijing that same year.
Taiwan has since been in a ‘twilight zone’ in which countries like Australia do not recognize it as a sovereign nation so that they can maintain diplomatic relations with China, but deal with Taiwan ‘unofficially’.