China warned Taiwan of ‘war’ on Thursday after stepping up military activities near the island to respond to provocation and foreign interference.
Taiwan, claimed by China as its territory, reported multiple Chinese fighter jets and bombers entering the island’s south-western air defence identification zone over the weekend.
“The military activities carried out by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait are necessary actions to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty and security,” Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian said.
“They are a solemn response to external interference and provocations by ‘Taiwan independence’ forces,” he added.
The Chinese incursions coincided with a US carrier battle group entering the disputed South China Sea to promote “freedom of the seas”.
Wu said a “handful” of people in Taiwan were seeking the island’s independence.
“We warn those ‘Taiwan independence’ elements: those who play with fire will burn themselves, and ‘Taiwan independence’ means war,” he added.
Democratic Taiwan has denounced China’s threats and efforts at intimidation.
China routinely describes Taiwan as its most important and sensitive issue in relations with the United States, which under the former Trump administration ramped up support for the island in terms of arms sales and senior officials visiting Taipei.
President Joe Biden’s government, in office for a week, has reaffirmed its commitment to Taiwan as being “rock solid”, potentially auguring further strains with Beijing.