Taiwan sees no large-scale Chinese military activities near island

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Tuesday it has not seen large-scale drills or actions by the Chinese military near the island so far after China condemned a brief U.S. visit by Taiwan Vice President William Lai.

China on Sunday condemned a brief U.S. visit by Taiwan Vice President William Lai, saying that he was a separatist and “troublemaker through and through,” and that Beijing would take strong steps to protect its sovereignty, drawing a rebuke from Taipei.

China is likely to launch military drills this week near Taiwan, using Lai’s U.S. stopovers as a pretext to intimidate voters ahead of next year’s election and make them “fear war,” Taiwanese officials say.

When asked about Chinese military activities reacting to Lai’s trip at a news conference, Sun Li-fang, defence ministry spokesperson, said it was the armed forces’ responsibility to track any Chinese military activities near Taiwan.

“The national army upholds the principle of ‘not afraid of the enemy and not provoking’ when facing all activities by the Chinese Communists Party,” Sun said, adding the ministry will not let down its guard.

Five Chinese military planes had entered Taiwan’s air defence identification zone in the past 24 hours from Tuesday morning, the ministry said in a daily report on Chinese activities.

Beijing has launched almost daily military incursions into Taiwan’s air defence zone in recent years.

(Reporting By Yimou Lee and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Gerry Doyle)