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Restraint doesn't mean Taiwan won't "counter" China, says the leader of Taiwan

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday while visiting front-line forces on islands in the tense Taiwan St...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - President Tsai Ing-wen said on Tuesday while visiting front-line forces on islands in the tense Taiwan Strait that Taiwan needs to be more calm the more China tries to stir things up. However, Taiwan can still take "strong countermeasures" if necessary.

China claims Taiwan as its territory, even though the government in Taipei is very against it. This month, after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island, China held military exercises around it.

Tsai praised the armed forces for working hard to protect Taiwan while she was at a major air and naval base on the Penghu islands in the Taiwan Strait. She also criticised Beijing for its drills and intimidation.

Tsai told naval officers, "I want to tell everyone that the more the enemy provokes us, the more calm we must be."

"We won't start fights, and we'll be self-controlled, but that doesn't mean we won't fight back," she added.

Tsai said, "I have told the Ministry of National Defense to take the strong measures that are needed to protect the safety of the country's airspace." She didn't say what those measures were.

There have been no gunshots, and Taiwan's government has said many times that it has responded calmly to what China has done.

But recently, Chinese drones flying very close to islands Taiwan controls near China's coast have upset Taiwan a lot. Tsai said this was part of Beijing's "grey zone" warfare.

Since China started its exercises this month, the warships and fighter jets based at Penghu have been going out with live ammunition, officers told reporters on the trip.

The captain of a frigate, Lee Kuang-ping, said that they often sent radio warnings to Chinese warships.

"Sometimes communist Chinese fishing boats show up near the drill zone, and the people on them say, 'Hit them, hit them!'" Lee added.

The People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command, which is in charge of the area next to Taiwan, released a video of the Penghu islands on August 15. The video was likely taken by China's air force.

Taiwan's military called the video "information warfare" and said it was a lie that Chinese forces had come close to the islands.

The beaches on Penghu make it a popular summer vacation spot. Unlike Taiwan's Kinmen and Matsu islands, which are right next to China, Penghu is close to Taiwan's southwestern coast.

China has much bigger and better armed forces than Taiwan. Tsai has been in charge of a modernization programme and has made it a top priority to spend more on defence.

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