TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan is not seeking to get into an arms race with China but does need to defend itself and will not submit to pressure, its defence ministry said in a report to parliament on Wednesday.
Tensions between Taiwan and China, which claims the democratically-governed island as its own territory, have spiked over the past year as Beijing ups its military and political pressure to force Taipei to accept Chinese sovereignty.
That has included repeated missions by Chinese warplanes in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, or ADIZ, which covers a broader area than Taiwan’s territorial air space which Taiwan monitors and patrols to give it more time to respond to any threats.
China is in the midst of a military modernisation programme, building new aircraft carriers and stealth fighters, while Taiwan is also increasing military spending, especially on developing new missiles and submarines.
In its report to parliament, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry described the situation in the Taiwan Strait that separates it from its giant neighbour as “severe and unstable” and labelled the actions of China’s military “provocation”.
“Taiwan will not engage in an arms race with the Chinese Communists’ military and will not seek military confrontation, hoping for peaceful coexistence across the strait,” it said.
“But in the face of the Chinese Communists’ threat to our national security, we will do our best to defend our country’s sovereignty and will never give in under duress.”
What it termed the “confrontation” between Taiwan and China would be “difficult to alleviate in the short term”.
The military will strive to hone its abilities to monitor Chinese aircraft and ships so it can react earlier, and will also exchange intelligence with foreign countries so it can be fully informed of the regional security situation, it added.
Speaking earlier on Wednesday in Beijing, a Chinese government spokesman reiterated their determination to prevent Taiwan’s formal independence and bring the island under China’s rule, preferably peacefully.
But Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, added: “We do not promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option to take all necessary measures”.
Democratically-ruled Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend itself if attacked.
The tensions have sparked international concern of a conflict that could pit the United States and its allies against China.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Additional reporting by Beijing newsroom, Editing by William Maclean)