By Roger Tung
TAIPEI, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Taiwan accused China of exaggerating on Tuesday after the Chinese military released images of the strategically located Penghu Islands, home to a major Taiwanese air base, saying it was not true that Chinese forces were have approached the islands.
China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory, has carried out military exercises around the island this month after the visit of the president of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who was followed by five American congressmen on Sunday. and the Monday.
The Chinese military unit responsible for the area adjacent to Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command, released a video of the Penghu Islands on Monday, apparently taken by a Chinese air force plane.
The second in command of the Taiwan Air Force Operations Staff, Tung Pei-lun, told reporters in Taipei that it was a Chinese information warfare maneuver, although he said he had no comment on who took the video.
“China used the exaggerated tricks of cognitive warfare to show how close it was to Penghu, which is not true,” Tung said.
On Monday, Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, in an update on Chinese air force activity near Taiwan, showed on a map that the closest Chinese planes to Penghu that day were four J-16 fighters.
The fighters crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait — which normally functions as an unofficial barrier between the two sides — but stayed closer to the Chinese coast than Penghu, according to the map.
Tung said Taiwan has real-time “knowledge” of what’s going on in the skies, and Chinese planes have been operating north and southwest of Taiwan and across the median line.
Penghu, a summer tourist destination for its beaches, is close to Taiwan’s southwestern coast, unlike Taiwan-controlled Kinmen and Matsu Islands, which are just off the Chinese coast.
Taiwan’s military is well equipped, but inferior to China’s. The island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, has been overseeing a modernization program and has made increasing defense spending a priority.
Defense Ministry spokesman Sun Li-fang said next year’s proposed defense budget had been submitted to the Cabinet for approval.
It is based on “enemy threat assessment,” military development needs and Taiwan’s overall financial resources, he said, without elaborating.
(Reporting by Roger Tung; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Robert Birsel, and Gerry Doyle; translation by Flora Gómez)