China Calls Military Flights A Response To U.S.-Taiwan ‘Collusion’
China said the rising number of warplanes it sends toward Taiwan were due to the island’s “military collusion” with the US, shedding light on its motives for the threatening activity.
(Bloomberg) -- China said the rising number of warplanes it sends toward Taiwan were due to the island’s “military collusion” with the US, shedding light on its motives for the threatening activity.
The People’s Liberation Army “drills are a solemn warning against Taipei’s increased provocation, which damaged peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait,” Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, said Wednesday at a briefing in Beijing.
“Democratic Progressive Party authorities have recently intensified military collusion with the US,” he added, referring to the ruling party of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen. When asked what exactly “collusion” entailed, Ma said the “facts are clear,” adding that “all people living on Earth know it.”
That was an apparent reference to US lawmakers last month agreeing to a spending bill that included $2 billion in weapons funding for Taiwan next year and as much as $10 billion through 2027. The Defense Ministry in Beijing earlier criticized the US National Defense Authorization Act, saying it played up the threat posed by China and interfered in the country’s internal affairs.
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Days after the defense act was passed, the PLA held its biggest drills since the exercises after then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August. The Chinese military sent 71 aircraft toward the island on Dec. 25-26, 47 of them making incursions either across the median line of the Taiwan Strait or into the island’s sensitive air-defense identification zone.
The Biden administration criticized the flights as “provocative,” while insisting it would continue helping the government in Taipei defend itself. The National Security Council also said the Chinese military activity was “destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability.”
The episode shows that while ties between Beijing and Washington have improved since Chinese leader Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden met at the Group of 20 in Indonesia in November, the Taiwan issue remains a persistent source of tension. Last year, some 1,700 Chinese warplanes carried out incursions near Taiwan, nearly double the number of 2021.
At the briefing Wednesday, Ma criticized a report about a “wargame” developed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which found that a hypothetical Chinese invasion of Taiwan “quickly founders” but exacts high costs on the island and the US Navy.
Some “think tanks from the US frequently publish so-called reports under the pretense of academic research that hype up the China threat,” Ma said. “They’re seeking benefits for their military-industrial groups at home, while trying to sow discord among people across the strait.”
China was also “opposed” to the four days of trade talks that officials from the US and Taiwan will hold in Taipei starting Saturday.
The meeting will be part of the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st Century Trade that was begun last June to reach agreement in areas including trade facilitation and regulatory practices. Officials held “conceptual discussions” in New York in November.
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