Aug 4, 2022 - World

Taiwan lawmaker warns China could "invade" territorial waters

Chinese military helicopters fly past Pingtan island, one of mainland China's closest point from Taiwan, in Fujian province on August 4, 2022

Chinese military helicopters fly past Pingtan island, one of mainland China's closest points to Taiwan, on Aug 4. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

TAIPEI, Taiwan —If Chinese naval forces enter Taiwan's territorial waters amid Beijing's ongoing military drills off the island's coast, that would constitute an invasion, Taiwanese member of parliament Wang Ting-yu told Axios.

Why it matters: A Chinese military incursion within 10 miles of Taiwan's coast would likely trigger defensive protocols from the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense and could raise the risk of miscalculation leading to military conflict.

What's happening: The Chinese government announced several days of live-fire drills as U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan this week. The exercises are the largest China has ever held in the Taiwan Strait, Reuters reports.

  • The drills began Thursday with China firing several ballistic missiles into waters east of Taiwan — the first time China has done so since the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis.
  • The drills are taking place in six zones encircling the island, which Taiwan's Ministry of Defense has said amounts to an "air and sea blockade." Commercial flights and shipping lanes have been partially disrupted.
  • Taiwan's Maritime Port Bureau initially reported that the Chinese military had added a seventh zone, but later retracted its statement, CNN reported.

What he's saying: "If they send in their fighters or their warships to enter our territorial sea, that means China invaded our territory and we will have our standard operation procedure to respond to that," said Wang, who is a member of the foreign and defense affairs committee in Taiwan's parliament.

  • "We take this very seriously," Wang said.
  • "We don’t want to provoke any conflict here," he added, "but whoever dares to invade our country, our home, we have our obligation to defend our home. "

Between the lines: Three of the zones where China has said it will conduct naval drills overlap with what Taiwan claims are its territorial waters, which are defined under international law as extending 10 miles from a country's coastline.

  • Chinese military expert Zhang Xuefeng told the Chinese party-affiliated Global Times on Wednesday that China has sovereignty over the island and so Taiwan's territorial waters are also China's territorial waters.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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