China has stepped up efforts to infiltrate Taiwan – president

President Tsai Ing-Wen calls on national security agencies to increase efforts to counter China amid rising tension.

Taiwan fighter jet
A Taiwan Air Force Mirage-2000 fighter jet takes off during military drills to test readiness [File: Tyrone Siu/Reuters]

President Tsai Ing-Wen says she has asked Taiwan‘s national security agencies to do more to counter China amid signs that the mainland has stepped up efforts to infiltrate and gain influence on the island.

Tsai, speaking to reporters on Friday after a national security meeting, said China’s operations to influence opinion included attempts to interfere with elections and conduct fake news campaigns.

She did not go into detail on specific incidents.

Tsai said Taiwan would deter any military aggression in the Taiwan Strait, after China last month staged military drills involving warships, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft around the island.

Defence capabilities would be improved with updated military equipment, she said. Taiwan recently launched a programme to build submarines locally.

“The Chinese Communist Party continues to demonstrate provocative actions in the Taiwan Strait, destroying the status quo across the Taiwan Strait,” Tsai said.

Fears grow

Taiwan scrambled jets to monitor the Chinese drills in April, which a senior official from the United States at the time described as “coercion” and a threat to regional stability.

China views Taiwan as a renegade province and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island, which has developed into a vibrant democracy in recent years, under its control.

The government in Beijing fears Tsai is pushing for the island’s formal independence and has steadily stepped up political and military pressure.

Tsai has said she wants to maintain the status quo with China but will defend Taiwan’s security and democracy.

The US House of Representatives this week unanimously backed legislation supporting Taiwan as members of Congress push for a sharper approach to relations with Beijing.

Source: Reuters