TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan must be wary of China’s “exaggerated” military activities that violate regional peace, Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang said Tuesday after 56 Chinese planes flew into Taiwan’s air defense zone on Monday, the highest ever.
Taiwan reported 148 Chinese Air Force aircraft in the southern and southwestern portions of its air defense zone over a four-day period beginning Friday, the same day China celebrated a major patriotic holiday, National Day.
China claims the self-governing island as its own territory, which should be taken by force if necessary. Taiwan says it is an independent country and will defend its freedoms and democracy.
Taiwan is calling China’s repeated military activity nearby as a “gray zone war” designed to both wear down Taiwanese armed forces and test Taiwan’s responses.
“Taiwan needs to be on the alert. China is becoming more and more exaggerated, ”Su told reporters in Taipei. “The world has also seen China’s repeated violations of regional peace and pressure on Taiwan.”
Taiwan needs to “strengthen itself” and come together as one, he added.
“Only then will countries that want to annex Taiwan not dare to resort to violence easily. Only when we help ourselves can others help us.”
Download the. down NBC news app for breaking news and politics
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen has made upgrading the armed forces a priority and has focused on using new, mobile weapons to make any attack by China as costly as possible.
The United States, Taiwan’s main military supplier, has described China’s increasing military activity near the island as destabilizing and has reiterated its “rock-solid” commitment to Taiwan.
China’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Japan also spoke on Tuesday, saying it is monitoring the situation closely and hoping Taiwan and China can negotiate to resolve their differences.
“Japan considers it crucial that the situation around Taiwan is peaceful and stable,” said Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Tokyo.
“Also, instead of just observing the situation, we hope to weigh the various possible scenarios that may arise in order to consider what options we have and what preparations we need to make.”
Taiwan has been under threat of invasion since the defeated ROC government fled to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war with the communists. No peace treaty or armistice was ever signed.
Taiwanese are well used to China’s threats, and there have been no signs of panic on the island over increased military activity or undermining investor confidence in the stock market.