Taiwan accuses China of ‘exaggerated tricks’

Defense officials have denied a claim that Chinese aircraft flew near the Penghu islands, saying Beijing uses “cognitive warfare”

Taiwanese defense officials have characterized China’s latest saber-rattling over visits to the self-governing island by US politicians as “cognitive warfare,” saying Beijing exaggerated the proximity of its latest military drills in the region as an intimidation tactic.

At issue is a social media post by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) showing footage of the Penghu islands, home of a major Taiwanese air force base, and suggesting that its jets were on Taiwan’s doorstep. Tung Pei-lun, the Taiwanese Air Force’s vice chief of staff for operations, denied that the recent Chinese drills in the Taiwan Strait came near Penghu.

“China used the exaggerated tricks of cognitive warfare to show how close it was to Penghu, which is not true,” Tung told reporters on Tuesday. He said Chinese aircraft have been operating to the north and southwest of Taiwan, in some cases crossing the unofficial median line into Taiwanese airspace, but the PLA planes flew closer to China’s coast than to Penghu.

The PLA’s Eastern Theater Command (ETC), the unit responsible for the region that includes the Taiwan Strait, has held navy and air force drills around Taiwan as a show of force following US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taipei earlier this month. Tensions were further inflamed on Sunday, when another US congressional delegation traveled to Taiwan.

“The CCP {Chinese Communist Party} acts in this provocative way toward us every day now,” Taiwanese Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang told reporters on Tuesday. “From our perspective, this is simply an opportunity to train more.”

More than 30 US lawmakers have visited Taiwan since last year, including 19 just this month. China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to reunify with the island, by force if necessary.

Beijing broke off military and climate ties with Washington after Pelosi’s trip, saying she had undermined China’s sovereignty and emboldened separatists. The ETC has vowed that it will “bury invading enemies.”

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