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China accuses Taiwan of ‘hyping up’ military threat for gain

Taiwan has been reporting Chinese fighter jets and warships around the island ahead of an election.

Taiwan has been reporting Chinese fighter jets and warships around the island ahead of an election. Photo: AFP/Getty

China’s defence ministry has accused Taiwan’s government of deliberately “hyping up” a military threat from China for electoral gain ahead of elections on the island.

Taiwan’s January 13 presidential and parliamentary election will shape the Chinese-claimed island’s relations with Beijing, which has ramped up military pressure to assert its sovereignty claims in the past four years.

As the election approaches, Taiwan has been reporting Chinese fighter jets and warships around the island, as well as balloons crossing the sensitive Taiwan Strait, although the military says they are most likely for weather monitoring purposes.

Speaking at a monthly news conference in Beijing, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Taiwan’s government was to blame for the tensions.

“The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities are deliberately hyping up the so-called ‘military threat from the mainland’ and exaggerating tensions,” said Wu, referring to Taiwan’s ruling party, which Beijing detests as separatists.

“This is entirely to seek electoral gain,” he said, accusing Taiwan of using a “familiar electoral playbook to stoke confrontation and manipulate the election”.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said this week it was not seeing any signs of large-scale Chinese military activity before elections but was keeping a close watch on China.

Wu said China’s People’s Liberation Army was well aware of what Taiwan’s military movements were.

“We will, as always, take all necessary measures to resolutely defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

Taiwan has also reported a spate of Chinese balloons drifting over the sensitive Taiwan Strait, saying they were probably monitoring weather conditions.

Taiwan’s defence ministry says Chinese war planes have also regularly crossed the waterway’s median line, which previously served as an unofficial barrier between the two sides.

Wu declined to comment on the balloons and reiterated that China did not recognise the median line.

“Taiwan is a part of China,” he said.

“The ‘median line’ absolutely does not exist.”

China has also been angered by United States arms sales to Taiwan.

“We firmly oppose any country having official and military contact with Taiwan in any form,” Wu said.

“The United States is manipulating the Taiwan question in various forms, which is a very dangerous gamble.”

-Reuters

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