Home World BBC's Ros Atkins delivers withering verdict on Taiwan and China war threat

BBC's Ros Atkins delivers withering verdict on Taiwan and China war threat

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White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the United States’ commitment to Taiwan is “rock solid,” as tensions rise between Taiwan and China “We will continue to support Taiwan’s self defence,” Psaki said. Taiwan, a major semiconductor producer, has repeatedly said it will defend itself if attacked, but that it will not “advance rashly” and wants to maintain the status quo with China. Mr Atkins warned that China is no match to Taiwan’s allies.

He said: “Tensions around Taiwan risk disturbing the uneasy equilibrium in the region.

“To understand these current tensions, we need to go back to their roots in 1949 where China’s nationalist government was defeated by the communists and fled to Taiwan.

“70 years on Taiwan, while once a dictatorship is a democracy with press freedom. China meanwhile is an oppressive single-party state. Both have seen rapid economic growth.

“Beijing’s position on Taiwan hasn’t waivered since 1950. It sees it as part of China and says it will do whatever is necessary to take it back.

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“The context here is that Chinese military power is growing rapidly and this military expansion is in part about America.

“Beijing forces have always dwarfed the Taiwanese military but China knows if it were to act against Taiwan, the Americans and their allies are present militarily and diplomatically.”

Taiwan will not start a war with China but will defend itself “full on”, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said on Thursday, amid a spike in tensions across the Taiwan Strait that has raised concern internationally.

“What is clearest is that the Republic of China absolutely will not start or set off a war, but if there are movements we will meet the enemy full on,” Chiu told a parliament committee meeting, using Taiwan’s official name.

Military tensions with China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, are at their worst in more than 40 years, Chiu said last week, adding that China will be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.

He was speaking after China mounted four consecutive days of mass air force incursions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone that began on October 1, part of a pattern of what Taipei views as stepped-up military harassment by Beijing.

No shots have been fired and China’s aircraft have stayed well away from Taiwan’s airspace, concentrating their activity in the southwestern corner of Taiwan’s air defence zone.

The ministry, in a report to parliament ahead of Chiu’s appearance before lawmakers, warned China of strong countermeasures if its forces got too close to the island.

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Chiu agreed with an assessment from a lawmaker that China’s abilities were constrained by a limited mid-air refuelling capacity, meaning it has only H-6 bombers and Y-8 anti-submarine and reconnaissance aircraft that have flown into the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan from the Philippines.

Chinese fighters have kept much closer to China’s coast, according to maps of their activity drawn up by Chiu’s ministry.

“Their aims are on the one hand to pressure Taiwan, and on the other to say to everyone else we have the ability to scare away and obstruct foreign military forces from getting involved,” he said.

China on Wednesday called its military activities a “just” move to protect peace and stability, and again blamed Taiwan’s “collusion” with foreign forces – a veiled reference to the United States – for sowing the tension.



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