Taiwan will fight to the end if China attacks, its foreign minister said on Wednesday, adding that the United States saw a danger that this could happen amid mounting Chinese military pressure, including aircraft carrier drills, near the island.
Chinese-claimed Taiwan has complained of repeated military activities by Beijing in recent months, with China’s air force making almost daily forays in Taiwan’s air defence identification zone. On Monday, China said an aircraft carrier group was exercising close to the island.
“From my limited understanding of American decision makers watching developments in this region, they clearly see the danger of the possibility of China launching an attack against Taiwan,” Joseph Wu told reporters at his ministry.
“We are willing to defend ourselves without any questions and we will fight the war if we need to fight the war. And if we need to defend ourselves to the very last day we will defend ourselves to the very last day.”
Washington, Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier, has been pushing Taipei to modernise its military so it can become a “porcupine”, that is hard for China to attack.
Wu said they were determined to improve their military capabilities and spend more on defence.
“The defence of Taiwan is our responsibility. We will try every way we can to improve our defence capability.”
Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said at a separate event they will run eight days of computer-aided war games this month of a Chinese attack on Taiwan, forming the first phase of Taiwan’s largest annual war games, the Han Kuang exercises.
A second phase, including live fire drills, will happen in July.
“The drills are designed based on the toughest enemy threats, simulating all possible scenarios on an enemy invasion on Taiwan,” Major General Liu Yu-Ping told reporters.
The second phase of Taiwan’s war games would involve mobilising some 8,000 reservists to join live-fire, anti-landing drills, and hospitals holding drills to deal with the influx of heavy casualties.
Asked if Washington’s de facto embassy, the American Institute in Taiwan, would send representatives to the drills, Liu said such a plan was “discussed” but “will not be implemented”, citing military sensitivity.
Taiwan has not said where the Chinese carrier group is currently, or if it will go next to the disputed South China Sea, where a U.S. carrier group is currently operating.
Speaking in parliament, Deputy Defence Minister Chang Che-ping said the Chinese carrier’s movements were being closely followed, and described its drills as routine.