Taiwan’s military issues a strong warning to China on Wednesday, saying that it will launch “counterattacks” if Chinese military planes or ships enter Taiwan’s territorial waters or airspace, both of which extend 12 nautical miles from the island’s coast.
“For PLA aircraft and warships that enter our territorial sea and airspace within 12 nautical miles, our armed forces will exercise the right to self-defense and counterattack,” said Maj. Gen. Lin Wen-huang, a Taiwanese military official.
China launched its largest-ever military drills around Taiwan at the beginning of August in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visiting the island. At the time, The South China Morning Post reported that one Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warship entered waters within 12 nautical miles of Taiwan’s coast, but Taiwanese officials later said Chinese ships stayed 24 nautical miles away during the drills.
China has kept up the military pressure on Taiwan as US delegations continued to visit the island throughout August. On Tuesday, Taiwan said it fired warning shots at a Chinese drone that was flying over the Kinmen islands, also known as the Quemoys, which is a Taiwanese-controlled archipelago on the southeastern coast of mainland China.
The drone that Taiwan fired on flew over Erdan, an island of the Kinmens that is only 2.5 miles from the Chinese mainland city of Xiamen. Chinese military analysts told The South China Morning Post that Taiwan firing on the drone escalated tensions and made a military clash more likely.
“If there are more visits [by foreign politicians] to Taiwan, and a closer connection between Taiwan and the US, mainland drones will be deployed more. The consequences are now becoming clear that Taiwan fired the first shot,” said Fu Qianshao, a retired PLA equipment specialist.
Taiwan said it began detecting Chinese drones over the Kinmens after Pelosi traveled to Taipei. Since her visit, there have been four more US delegations to the island as Washington shows no intention of trying to de-escalate tensions.
The Kinmen islands were shelled by China during both armed conflicts between the mainland and Taiwanese forces in the 1950s, known as the first and second Taiwan Strait crises. The US military intervened in both instances, and, in 1958, during the second Taiwan Strait crisis, there was a serious push by military planners to get the White House to use nuclear weapons against China.