The European Commission expressed concern and called for restraint on Saturday after China started three days of military exercises near Taiwan in retaliation for Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California last Wednesday.
The Taiwanese government on Saturday said it had spotted 42 Chinese aircraft as well as eight ships crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the unofficial border between the two countries. China considers Taiwan part of its territory, a claim rejected by Taipei. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry condemned the incursions as “irrational actions” and pledged to “defend national security with solid combat readiness.”
“We are concerned by the intensification of military activities of the People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan, with incursions in Taiwanese Air Defense Identification Zone and crossing of the median line,” a Commission spokesperson said in a statement, adding: “Any instability in the Strait resulting from escalation, accident or use of force would have huge economic and security implications for the region and globally. It is key to exercise restraint.”
Beijing announced the drills shortly after China hosted a visit by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The drills were largely expected to take place following Tsai’s visit to the U.S., which Beijing sees as a provocation.
“This is a serious warning to the Taiwan independence separatist forces and external forces’ collusion and provocation, and it is a necessary action to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement, Reuters reported.