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Responding to Ukraine tensions, Taiwan says it is watching situation with China

Randy Mancini 2 Feb 12
FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows China and Taiwan's flags
FILE PHOTO: Chess pieces are seen in front of displayed China and Taiwan's flags in this illustration taken January 25, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

February 12, 2022

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan is closely watching the situation in the narrow strait that separates it from China and raising its preparedness in response to what is happening with Ukraine, the government said on Saturday, though it added the two cases were very different.

China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up military activity near the self-governing island over the past two years, though Taiwan has reported no unusual manoeuvres by Chinese forces in recent days as tensions over Ukraine have spiked.

As Western nations warn a war in Ukraine could ignite at any moment, Taiwan’s presidential office said the military continues to strengthen its surveillance operations, adding that regional peace and stability is “the shared responsibility of all parties”.

“All military units continue to pay close attention to the situation in Ukraine and movements in the Taiwan Strait, continue to strengthen joint intelligence and surveillance, and gradually increase the level of combat readiness in response to various signs and threats to effectively respond to various situations,” it added.

Taiwan complains most frequently about China’s air force flying into its air defence zone, part of what Taipei says is a pattern of harassment by Beijing.

Taiwan last month reported https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/taiwan-reports-new-large-scale-chinese-air-force-incursion-2022-01-23 the largest incursion since October by China’s air force, with the island’s defence ministry saying Taiwanese fighters scrambled to warn away 39 aircraft.

Those flights have continued on an almost daily basis but with far fewer aircraft: Taiwan reported just five were involved in a mission on Saturday.

However, the presidential office added that the situation in the Taiwan Strait was “fundamentally different” from the situation in Ukraine, and called on people not to be misled by false information.

It said fake information had been circulating using the situation in Ukraine to affect morale in Taiwan, though gave no details.

Speaking to Indian news channel CNN-News18 on Friday, Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said they were watching very carefully whether China was going to take advantage of a West distracted by Ukraine to attack the island.

However with China in the midst of hosting the Winter Olympics, it may not want any “major events” to divert attention from that, he added.

“It’s going to be very hard to say that after the Winter Olympics are over whether Russia is going to launch at attack against Ukraine or whether China is going to think about using its military force against Taiwan,” Wu said.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen last month set up a Ukraine working group under the National Security Council to watch developments and the possible impact on Taiwan’s security.

Tsai has expressed https://www.reuters.com/world/taiwan-president-expresses-empathy-ukraines-situation-2022-01-28 “empathy” for Ukraine’s situation due to the military threat the island faces from China.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Christina Fincher)