Taiwan does not want to engage in an arms race with China, but it does need to protect itself and will not cave to pressure, according to a report presented to parliament on Wednesday by its defense minister.
Tensions between Taiwan and China, which claims the democratically-governed island as its own, have risen in recent months as Beijing increases military and political pressure on Taipei to embrace Chinese sovereignty.
Chinese warplanes have conducted many missions in Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, or ADIZ, which spans a larger area than Taiwan’s territorial air space and which Taiwan monitors and patrols to allow it more time to respond to any threats.
China is undergoing a military modernization program that includes the construction of new aircraft carriers and stealth fighters, while Taiwan is expanding military investment, particularly on missiles and submarines.
In its report to parliament, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry described the situation in the Taiwan Strait that separates it from its giant neighbor 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.”
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.