Taiwan's foreign minister said on Tuesday that China was using the military drills it launched in protest against US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit as an excuse to prepare for an invasion of the self-ruled island.
Joseph Wu told a press conference in Taipei that Taiwan, which is claimed by China as its own, would not be intimidated even as the drills continued with China often breaching the unofficial median line down the Taiwan Strait.
"China has used the drills ... to prepare for the invasion of Taiwan," Wu said, urging international support to safeguard "peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait."
"It's conducting large-scale military exercises, missile launches as well as cyber attacks, a disinformation campaign and economic coercion in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan."
Wu spoke as military tensions simmer after the scheduled end on Sunday of four days of the largest-ever Chinese exercises surrounding the island - drills that included ballistic missile launches and simulated sea and air attacks in the skies and seas surrounding Taiwan.
"It's conducting large-scale military exercises, missile launches as well as cyber attacks, a disinformation campaign and economic coercion in an attempt to weaken public morale in Taiwan."Joseph Wu
A total of 16 Chinese fighter jets entered Taiwan's air defense zone on Tuesday and crossed the Taiwan Strait median line, Taiwan's Defence Ministry said.
China's Eastern Theatre Command announced on Monday that it would conduct fresh joint drills focusing on ant-submarine and sea assault operations - confirming the fears of some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing would keep up the pressure on Taiwan's defenses.
After Pelosi left
As Pelosi left the region last Friday, China also ditched some lines of communication with the United States, including theater level military talks and discussions on climate change.
Taiwan started its own long-scheduled drills on Tuesday, firing howitzer artillery out to sea in the southern county of Pingtung.
US President Joe Biden, in his first public comments on the issue since Pelosi's visit, said on Monday he was concerned about China's actions in the region but he was not worried about Taiwan. Read full story
"I'm concerned they are moving as much as they are," Biden told reporters in Delaware, referring to China. "But I don't think they're going to do anything more than they are."
A senior Pentagon official said Washington was sticking to an earlier assessment that Beijing would not try to invade Taiwan in the next two years.
Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl also said the US military would continue to carry out voyages through the Taiwan Strait in the coming weeks.
China has never ruled out taking Taiwan by force and on Monday Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said that China was conducting normal military exercises "in our waters" in an open, transparent and professional way, adding Taiwan was part of China.