On Wednesday, amid growing pressure from Chinese warplanes surrounding the island nation, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu vowed the democratically self-governed island nation would fight to the very end.
Wu delivered the remarks during a Wednesday press briefing. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted, “All eyes & ears were on Minister Wu at the foreign press corps briefing. He fielded numerous big issue questions & hammered home a fact known to each & every one of the country’s 23 million people: #Taiwan is an #IslandOfResilience willing to defend itself to the very last day.”
Wu asserted Taiwan’s willingness to defend itself to the end on the same day Taiwan’s Defense Ministry announced 15 Chinese warplanes, including a dozen fighter jets and an anti-submarine aircraft breached Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ).
“From my limited understanding of American decision makers watching developments in this region, they clearly see the danger of the possibility of China launching an attack against Taiwan,” Wu told reporters, according to Reuters. We are willing to defend ourselves without any questions and we will fight the war if we need to fight the war. And if we need to defend ourselves to the very last day we will defend ourselves to the very last day.”
While Taiwan governs itself as an independent nation, mainland China maintains its claim of sovereignty over the island.
For months, China has been flying warplanes near Taiwan. In recent weeks, China flew a single-day record of 20 warplanes, including a dozen fighter jets and four bombers near Taiwan. Three days later, China sent another 10 warplanes near the island.
China’s near-constant military flights near Taiwan appear to be part of an effort to exhaust Taiwan’s smaller air forces, which often have to deploy to intercept the Chinese warplanes.
Taiwan grounded its fleet of F-16 fighter jets in November and, in March, grounded its fleet of F-5 fighter jets after separate fatal crashes.
In March, Navy Adm. Phillip Davidson, the commander of U.S. Indo Pacific Command (INDOPACOM), warned that China could invade Taiwan within the next six years. Later in March, Navy Adm. John Aquilino, who has been nominated to replace Davidson, said China could invade Taiwan at any point from “today to 2045.”
“My opinion is this problem is much closer to us than most think,” Aquilino added. “We have to take this on, put those deterrence capabilities, like [the Pacific Deterrence Initiative] in place in the near term and with urgency.”
In February, President Joe Biden’s administration vowed to deepen ties with Taiwan in the face of continued Chinese operations around the island.
“We will stand with friends and allies to advance our shared prosperity, security, and values in the Indo-Pacific region — and that includes deepening our ties with democratic Taiwan,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said.
The U.S. has recognized China’s sovereignty claim over Taiwan since 1972.
“The United States will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues, consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people on Taiwan,” Price said. “The United States maintains its longstanding commitments as outlined in the Three Communiqués, the Taiwan Relations Act, and the Six Assurances. We will continue to assist Taiwan in maintaining a sufficient self-defense capability. Our commitment to Taiwan is rock-solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and within the region.”
Recently, Chinese fighter pilots have been practicing to cut off Taiwan from avenues of U.S. and international support. Isolating Taiwan from outside support would prove critical should China invade the island.