Taiwan says its army is ready to welcome China during the inauguration of the new president

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s military is ready for any action China may take as President-elect Lai Ching-te takes office later this month, Taiwan’s vice defense minister said on Wednesday. the island.

China, which considers democratically governed Taiwan its own territory, has a strong dislike for Lai, viewing him as a dangerous separatist, whose repeated offers for talks it has rejected, including one this month.

Lai, like the current president Tsai Ing-wen, rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims; both affirm that only the inhabitants of the island can decide their future. Lai, now vice president, will be inaugurated on May 20.

“Before and after May 20, our country’s military will comply with all combat readiness requirements and pay special attention to the damage caused to regional peace and stability by the other side,” the vice-president said. Defense Minister Po Horng-huei to reporters.

Chinese military activities in and around the Taiwan Strait are destabilizing for the entire Indo-Pacific region, Po added in comments made to reporters at Parliament.

China’s Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Over the past four years, the Chinese military has massively increased its activities around Taiwan, including regularly flying warplanes over the midline of the Taiwan Strait, which previously served as an unofficial buffer zone.

In its daily report released Wednesday on Chinese military activities over the previous 24 hours, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said six Chinese planes crossed the median line, flying into an area west of Taiwan’s Penghu Islands , which is home to a major air base.

China, which also held at least two “joint combat readiness patrols” near the island last month, according to Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, says it does not recognize the existence of the median line.

Taiwan-based security sources have repeatedly warned that China could show its displeasure with Lai’s use of the military.

In 2022, China held major military exercises near Taiwan after then-Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei and again last year after President Tsai met his successor, Kevin McCarthy, during a stopover in California.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; additional reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing; editing by Clarence Fernandez)