A row of Taiwanese flags are seen in downtown Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday. Photo by Ritchie B. Tongo/EPA-EFE
Oct. 6 (UPI) -- After several days of incursions into Taiwanese airspace by dozens of Chinese military aircraft, Taiwan's defense minister said Wednesday that he fears China could launch a full-scale invasion within four years.
Taiwanese defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng made the remarks during a press briefing on Wednesday.
His comments came after nearly 150 Chinese planes flew into Taiwan's air defense zone over a period of five days.
Beijing has long claimed Taiwan as a sovereign territory and the two have been at odds for decades about which has rights to the name China.
When asked if China has the ability to launch an invasion of the island nation, Chiu said it's possible -- and the risk will be much greater by 2025.
"By 2025, China's costs and attrition will be brought to the lowest level and it will have the ability to launch a full-scale invasion of Taiwan," he said, according to Taiwan News.
The defense minister said China already has the capability to invade Taiwan, but added that certain conditions in the present geopolitical climate make it unlikely. Those conditions, though, could disappear by 2025, he said.
Chiu also said the recent Chinese flights have created the "most serious moment" in his four decades of Taiwanese military service.
The Chinese flights have been condemned by Western nations, including the United States, and Beijing has been advised to halt the incursions.
On Tuesday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said that a Chinese takeover of Taiwan would be catastrophic for peace in Asia, and would destabilize the western Pacific.
The Taiwanese legislature met on Wednesday to discuss an $8.6 billion special budget to buy weapons such as anti-ship missiles. If approved, the added hardware would increase the island's $17 billion military budget.