Taiwan will 'fire back' if attacked by China: military source

09/20/2020 04:49 PM
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A fighter jet at the Air Force
A fighter jet at the Air Force's base in Hsinchu. CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 20 (CNA) Taiwan will not make any provocative moves but will return fire if Chinese forces attack, a military source said Sunday, amid rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait due to China's recent incursions into Taiwan airspace.

In the most recent incursions, two Chinese bombers and 16 fighter jets crossed the median line of the strait Friday, and a fleet of 19 military aircraft from China flew into Taiwan's air defense identification zone Saturday in a pincer formation, a movement designed to attack by facing the enemy in front, on both flanks, and in the rear.

On both occasions, Taiwan's military responded by scrambling jets, issuing radio warnings to the intruders, and mobilizing surveillance and air defense assets, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND).

Amid the growing threat from China, the MND recently held a series of briefings at the Air Force Combatant Command to ensure that Taiwan's fighter jet pilots follow protocol for engaging enemy threats in the air, a military source told CNA.

Taiwan's military does not know what are the intentions behind China's frequent incursions, but Taiwan wants to prevent any actions by its pilots that might accidentally trigger a cross-strait war, said the source, who asked not to be named.

While Beijing has said it will not strike first or fire the first shot in a potential cross-strait war, it has been ratcheting up its military coercion against Taiwan, the source said.

Taiwan will not fire the first shot, but it will exercise its right to defend itself and will "definitely fire back if fired upon," the source said.

Meanwhile, the five-day computer-aided war games segment of Taiwan's annual Han Kuang exercise, which concluded Friday, revealed that its military does not have enough long-range precision missiles for effective defense, according to the source.

The military will continue its efforts to beef up its defense capability in that area, amid the growing threat across the strait, the source added.

The computerized war games, held Sept. 14-18, simulated Taiwan's armed forces response to a simulated full scale invasion attempt by China.

The Han Kuang military exercises, Taiwan's major annual drill, are usually held every year in two phases -- live-fire drills and computer-assisted tabletop training. The live-fire drills were carried out July 13-17.

According to sources, the United States military has been sending a delegation to Taiwan to observe the annual drill since 2003 but did not do so this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, officials from the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official diplomatic ties, observed the drill, the sources said.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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