Taipei, Taiwan will scramble jets armed with missiles if necessary in response to China's increased military activity near Taiwan, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Tuesday.
MND spokesman Chen Chung-ji made the remarks in the wake of Chinese fighter jets being observed crossing the "first island chain" into the Western Pacific on a regular basis.
The "first island chain" refers to the major archipelagos off the East Asian continental mainland, including the Japanese archipelago, the Ryukyu islands, Taiwan and the northern Philippines.
In the latest Chinese military exercise, a Chinese Shaanxi Y-8 transport plane was spotted Monday flying over the Bashi Channel -- the waterway that separates Taiwan from the Philippines -- then passing over the Miyako Strait that lies between two Japanese islands, before returning to its base in China.
It was the second consecutive day Chinese military aircraft were seen undertaking a similar mission over the Western Pacific.
A day earlier, several Chinese reconnaissance and electronic warfare aircraft were observed flying on the same route over the Western Pacific Ocean from south to north.
According to data released by the MND, Chinese military aircraft carried out nine drills near Taiwan after the conclusion of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in October.
Photos posted online by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force even show its fighters armed with missiles.
In response, Chen said that Taiwan's military has measures in place and will respond appropriately to any developments by integrating ground troops, sea and air forces, based on a standard operating procedure.
Asked whether the PLA's frequent deployment of bombers and aircraft through international airspace near Taiwan on long-range training missions is aimed at collecting intelligence concerning Taiwan's military, Chen said that such PLA training missions might in fact help Taiwan's military test its combat readiness.
In a similar vein, Taiwan's military could also collect important intelligence concerning the PLA through the response process, such as whether Chinese aircraft are armed or not, their flight zones and routes, Chen added.
He urged the public not panic, saying that the armed forces have the confidence and ability to safeguard national security.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel