As tensions between Beijing and Taipei have increased, Chinese jets are holding drills near Taiwan for the sixth time this month. Recent “island encirclement patrol” comes shortly after China’s fighter planes flew over the Sea of Japan, prompting a reaction from South Korea.
Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said that Taipei would dispatch jets armed with missiles if necessary in response to Beijing’s increased military activity near the island. Commenting on the drills, which have already become commonplace, Ministry spokesman Major General Chen Chung-chi urged people not to panic, claiming that the armed forces would be able to ensure their security.
Relations between the mainland and Taiwan have worsened since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen came to power last year and rapidly deteriorated since US President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law last week. Taiwan has always been a stumbling block in Sino-American relations despite the fact the Washington doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a separate state and sticks to the so-called “One China” policy. However, the US seeks to enhance military ties with Taiwan through mutual naval visits. As for Beijing, it sees Taipei as one of its autonomous provinces, which eventually will be reunited with the mainland, even by the use of force, while Tsai refuses to accept the “One China” policy, and is allegedly preparing for a full-fledged independence referendum next year.