Taiwan rejects the “one country, two systems” model proposed by Beijing in a white paper published this week, the self-ruled island’s foreign ministry said on Thursday (Aug 11), after its army held another live-fire drill as China ended their own military exercises.
Only Taiwan’s people can decide its future, ministry spokesman Joanne Ou told a news conference in Taipei, the capital.
China was using US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei as an “excuse to create a new normality to intimidate Taiwan’s people,” Ms Ou added.
Taiwan's drill on Thursday came after Beijing ended its largest-ever military exercises around the island, as China repeated threats to bring the self-ruled democracy under its control.
No more than 10 Chinese and Taiwan navy ships continued to stay close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait as of Thursday afternoon, a source briefed on the matter told Reuters, adding the number has “greatly reduced” compared to previous days.
Several Chinese fighter jets briefly crossed the unofficial buffer separating China and Taiwan in the strait earlier on Thursday, the person added.
Several Chinese navy ships continued to conduct missions off Taiwan’s eastern coast and near Japan’s Yonaguni island, the source familiar with the security planning in the areas near Taiwan said.
Chinese military frigates recently conducted a three-day drill in the South China Sea, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Thursday.
CCTV did not specify if these drills were related to the set of drills around Taiwan which ended on Wednesday and had been conducted.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Thursday that at present the Chinese military threat has not decreased and while Taiwan will not escalate conflicts or provoke disputes, it will firmly defend its sovereignty and national security.
"We will firmly defend our sovereignty and national security, and adhere to the line of defence of democracy and freedom,” Ms Tsai told the officers, according to a statement from her office.
Ms Tsai acknowledged the pressure Taiwan’s military was under.
"In the face of China’s recent military provocations, the nation’s armed forces are right on the front lines, and its duties will only be more onerous and the pressure will be even greater,” she said.
In a white paper published on Wednesday, China's Taiwan Affairs Office said Beijing would "not renounce the use of force" against its neighbour and reserved "the option of taking all necessary measures".
"We are ready to create vast space for peaceful reunification, but we will leave no room for separatist activities in any form," it said in the paper.
Beijing has raged at a trip to Taiwan last week by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - the highest-ranking elected American official to visit in decades - staging days of air and sea drills around the island that raised tensions to their highest level in years.
Taiwan has accused China of using the Pelosi visit as an excuse to kickstart drills that would allow it to rehearse for an invasion.
Lou Woei-jye, spokesman for Taiwan's Eighth Army Corps, told AFP its forces fired howitzers and target flares as part of the defensive drill on Thursday morning.
The exercise in Taiwan's southernmost county of Pingtung began at 8.30am local time and lasted about an hour, he said.
Artillery tucked in from the coast was lined up side by side, with armed soldiers in units firing the howitzers out to sea one after the other, a livestream showed.
Taiwan held a similar drill on Tuesday in Pingtung. Both included the deployments of hundreds of troops, the military said.
The military has played down their significance, saying they were already scheduled and were not in response to China's war games.
"We have two goals for the drills, the first is to certify the proper condition of the artillery and their maintenance condition and the second is to confirm the results of last year," Lou said, referring to annual drills.
The latest exercise came after China's military indicated its own drills had come to an end Wednesday, saying its forces "successfully completed various tasks" in the Taiwan Strait while vowing to continue patrolling its waters.
But in the same announcement, China added that it would "continue to carry out military training and prepare for war".
Taiwan routinely stages military drills simulating defence against a Chinese invasion, and last month practised repelling attacks from the sea in a "joint interception operation" as part of its largest annual exercises.
In response to the Chinese military revealing it was bringing drills to an end on Wednesday, Taiwan's army said it would "adjust how we deploy our forces... without letting our guard down".
Source: The Straits Times
BDST: 2110 HRS, AUG 11, 2022