İrem UZUN -TDO- On Thursday, Chinese defense ministry spokesman Wu Qian defended the recent military activities near Taiwan, saying they were "necessary actions to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty and security". "They are a solemn response to external interference and provocations by 'Taiwan independence' forces," he added. "We warn those 'Taiwan independence' elements - those who play with fire will burn themselves, and Taiwan independence means war."

Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, reported multiple Chinese fighter jets and bombers entering its southwestern air defense identification zone last weekend, prompting Washington to urge Beijing to stop pressuring Taiwan. China believes that Taiwan’s democratically-elected government is moving the island towards a declaration of formal independence, though Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly said it is already an independent country called the Republic of China, its formal name.

The warning also comes after new U.S. President Joe Biden reaffirmed his commitment to Taiwan and set out his stance in Asia. Asked about the remarks, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said there was no reason that tensions between China and Taiwan “need to lead to anything like confrontation.” He also reaffirmed longstanding U.S. military support to Taiwan’s self-defense. 

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