Taipei warns Beijing that any military assets that enter its ‘territorial airspace’ will be shot at
Taiwan has repeated its stance that it would destroy any Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft or vessels if they were to enter a 12 nautical mile zone around the island, Taipei’s military leadership said on Tuesday.
“If the PLA side continues to ignore our warnings along the way and force their way into our territorial air space and seas, we will actively strike back to safeguard national security,” Major General Lin Wen-huang, a planning administrator at Taipei’s Ministry of National Defense (MND), said on Tuesday in comments carried by Taiwan’s Central News Agency.
The declaration from Taipei’s defense official follows an MND statement which said it had detected 19 Chinese warplanes flying close to airspace Taiwan considers its own, between Friday and Saturday of last week. Lin added that Taiwan routinely monitors PLA aircraft and vessels when they appear to approach Taipei.
At least eight aircraft crossed the so-called median line in the Taiwan Strait, officials said, and approached the perimeter of a zonal boundary around 24 nautical miles (44.5km) from the island’s coast. Taiwan considers its contiguous zone, an area of territorial waters Taipei says is under its control, to extend 24 nautical miles (44 km) from its shoreline. It defines its territorial space as being 12 nautical miles (22 km) from its coast.
PLA aircraft most recently approached Taiwan’s contiguous zone on December 31 last year, but approaches near the boundary are considered rare.
Taiwan’s military policy dictates that it will avoid a ‘first strike’ against Chinese military assets. However, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said in March that this stance does not apply to threats that arise within its self-declared airspace.
“Once they are detected within the 12-nautical-mile territorial space, the military will shoot at them,” Chiu said during a government legislative session, according to the CNA agency.
Taiwan, which has been governed by a local administration since 1949, is considered by Beijing to be a breakaway province. The ‘One China’ principle states that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the mainland, which will one day be reunified.