The US called on China to halt its “provocative” pressure on Taiwan after a record number of daily incursions by Chinese warplanes, saying the military actions are destabilising and risk leading to “miscalculations”.
“The US commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement on Sunday (Oct 3).
The fly-bys close to Taiwan on Saturday extended a Chinese display of military might as the country entered a second day of celebrations of communist China’s founding.
People’s Liberation Army aircraft conducted 39 flights near the territory on Saturday and 38 on Friday, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said on Twitter.
The US “is very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilising, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability”, Mr Price said.
“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan.”
The incursions came as the National Day holiday started on the mainland to celebrate the 72nd anniversary of the People’s Republic’s founding.
Mr Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Global Times, said Taiwan should probably expect further such incidents.
“These warplanes appearing at Taiwan Straits on China’s National Day is a new ceremony of Chinese people to celebrate the holiday,” he wrote on Twitter.
“There could be more warplanes appearing there next year on the National Day, if Taiwan authorities continue their provocation.”
The shows of force come after Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office issued an angry denunciation of Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu on its official Weibo account.
China derided his efforts to strengthen Taiwan’s international relations as “shrilling and moaning,” and “the buzzing of flies”.
The statement followed Mr Wu’s assertion, in a Sept 27 speech to the Hoover Institution in the US, that Taiwan is under constant threat from China, including grey zone tactics and information security attacks.
China is attempting to lure Taiwan’s diplomatic allies and exclude it from important international organisations, Mr Wu said.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council hit back at China’s criticism of Mr Wu, calling it “unprecedented verbal abuse in the international community”.
China has increased its diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan over the past year.
The Chinese air force made more than 500 incursions into Taiwan’s Adiz in the first nine months of 2021, Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng told lawmakers, compared with more than 300 a year in the past.
Some 24 PLA aircraft flew into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone a week earlier, one day after Taiwan announced it had requested to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.
In June, China’s air force sent 28 planes close to Taiwan in what was then the biggest sortie this year.