Military tension between China and Taiwan, which Beijing says is a breakaway region, has intensified in the last few days with a record number of Chinese fighter aircraft flying into the island’s air defence zone.
The marked increase in tension comes ahead of the meeting between Yang Jiechi, a member of the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Committee Politburo and US national security advisor Jake Sullivan in Zurich, Switzerland, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Wednesday.
The meeting in Zurich comes in the backdrop of heightened tensions between Beijing and Washington over a range of issues including Taiwan.
It will be Jake Sullivan’s first face-to-face meeting with Yang Jiechi since their bitter exchanges in Alaska in March, which also involved US secretary of state Antony Blinken.
The deployment of a large number of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) air force jets near Taiwan was highlighted by 56 fighters and bombers dispatched on one day earlier this week.
Overall, at least 150 PLA aircraft have flown into Taiwan’s air defence zone in the last few days.
The deployment coincided with the National Day holidays on the mainland, which is marked by seven days of events and celebrations to observe the founding of modern China under the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1949.
In Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, the country’s defence minister said military tensions with China were at their worst in more than 40 years. Defence minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the situation was “the most serious” in more than 40 years since he joined the military, adding there was a risk of a “misfire” across the sensitive Taiwan Strait.
“For me as a military man, the urgency is right in front of me,” Reuters quoted him telling a parliamentary committee on Wednesday.
The committee is reviewing a special military spending of T$240 billion ($8.6 billion) for home-made weapons including missiles and warships, Reuters reported.
In Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying blamed the US for the heightened tension, lashing out at US state department spokesperson Ned Price’s statement in which he said that the US was very concerned by China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan.
“Taiwan belongs to China and the US is in no position to make irresponsible remarks. The relevant remarks by the US side seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués and send an extremely wrong and irresponsible signal,” Hua said.
“For quite some time, the US has been making negative moves by selling arms to Taiwan and strengthening official and military ties with Taiwan, including the launch of a $750 million arms sale plan to Taiwan, the landing of US military aircraft in Taiwan and frequent sailing of US warships across the Taiwan Strait,” she said.
“These provocative moves undermine China-US relations and regional peace and stability. China is firmly opposed to them and has taken necessary countermeasures,” Hua Chunying added.