Taiwan’s foreign minister said the island will defend itself “to the very last day” if attacked by China.
Joseph Wu said China’s attempts at conciliation while engaging in military intimidation are sending “mixed signals” to the island’s residents.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory to be won over peacefully or by force.
Mr Wu noted China flew 10 warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Monday and deployed an aircraft carrier group for exercises near Taiwan.
“We are willing to defend ourselves, that’s without any question,” Mr Wu told reporters.
“We fill fight a war if we need to fight a war, and if we need to defend ourselves to the very last day, then we will defend ourselves to the very last day.”
China does not recognise Taiwan’s democratically elected government, and leader Xi Jinping has said “unification” between the sides cannot be put off indefinitely.
“On the one hand they want to charm the Taiwanese people by sending their condolences, but at the same time they are also sending their military aircraft and military vessels closer to Taiwan aimed at intimidating Taiwan’s people,” Mr Wu said at a ministry briefing.
“The Chinese are sending very mixed signals to the Taiwanese people and I would characterise that as self-defeating,” Mr Wu said.
The vast improvements in China’s military capabilities and its increasing activity around Taiwan have raised concerns in the US, which is legally bound to ensure Taiwan is capable of defending itself and to regard all threats to the island’s security as matters of “grave concern”.
China’s military said on Monday the new naval drills were meant to help it “safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests”, terms often interpreted as being directed at Taiwan’s leadership that has refused to give in to Beijing’s demands that it recognise the island as part of Chinese territory.
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, and most Taiwanese favour maintaining the current state of de facto independence while engaging in robust economic exchanges with the mainland.
China has also created conditions for greater economic integration, while also targeting some communities such as pineapple farmers in hopes of weakening their support for the island’s government.
Chinese diplomatic pressure has been growing also, reducing the number of Taiwan’s formal diplomatic allies to just 15 and shutting its representatives out of the World Health Assembly and other major international forums.