Military relations with China are at their worst in 40 years, Taiwan’s defence minister has said.
Chiu Kuo-cheng also warned China would be capable of mounting a full-scale invasion of the island by 2025.
His comments came after China sent a “record numbers” of military jets into Taiwan’s air defence zone for four consecutive days.
Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state. Beijing, however, views Taiwan as a breakaway province.
It has not ruled out the possible use of force to achieve unification with the island.
China “has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration,” Chiu Kuo-cheng said without specifying.
He was speaking as a parliamentary committee in Taipei considered a multi-billion-dollar defence spending bill to build missiles and warships.
He added there was a real risk of a “misfire” across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan broke away from the mainland as communists seized power in 1949.
Analysts have warned that Beijing is becoming increasingly concerned that Taiwan’s government is moving the island towards a formal declaration of independence and wants to deter its President Tsai Ing-wen from taking any steps in that direction.
A number of Western allies of Taiwan have expressed concern at China’s open display of military might recently.
However, US President Joe Biden said his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping had agreed to abide by the “Taiwan agreement”.
Mr Biden appeared to be referring to Washington’s longstanding “one China” policy under which it recognises China rather than Taiwan.
However, this agreement also allows Washington to maintains a “robust unofficial” relationship with Taiwan. The US sells arms to Taiwan as part of Washington’s Taiwan Relations Act, which states that the US must help Taiwan defend itself.
The “One China” policy, which Mr Biden and Mr Xi are believed to have referred to, is a key cornerstone of Sino-US relations but is distinct from the One China principle, whereby China insists Taiwan is an inalienable part of one China to be reunified one day.
“I’ve spoken with [Mr] Xi about Taiwan. We agree … we’ll abide by the Taiwan agreement,” said President Biden. “We made it clear that I don’t think he should be doing anything other than abiding by the agreement.
China and Taiwan: The basics
- Why do China and Taiwan have poor relations? China and Taiwan were divided during a civil war in the 1940s, but Beijing insists the island will be reclaimed at some point, by force if necessary
- How is Taiwan governed? The island has its own constitution, democratically elected leaders, and about 300,000 active troops in its armed forces
- Who recognises Taiwan? Only a few countries recognise Taiwan. Most recognise the Chinese government in Beijing instead. The US has no official ties with Taiwan but does have a law which requires it to provide the island with the means to defend itself