China Conducts Major Military Drills Around Taiwan

China Conducts Major Military Drills Around Taiwan

China Conducts Major Military Drills Around Taiwan

China has commenced two days of military exercises around Taiwan, which its military describes as “strong punishment” for the self-ruled island’s “separatist acts.”

Excel Magazine International reports that the drills began just three days after the inauguration of President William Lai, who urged China to cease threatening Taiwan and recognize its democratic existence.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province destined to return to Beijing’s control, while Taiwan views itself as distinct and sovereign.

In response to the exercises, Taiwan’s defense ministry condemned the Chinese maneuvers as “irrational provocations,” and deployed naval, air, and ground forces to “defend the island’s sovereignty.”

For the first time, Thursday’s drills simulated a full-scale attack, rather than an economic blockade, according to Taiwanese military experts.

The exercises encircled the main island and targeted the Taipei-controlled islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin, which lie close to the Chinese coast, based on maps released by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The drills also extended to the east of Taiwan, an area known for its rugged coastline and strategic military infrastructure, including a large underground airbase near Hualien.

By positioning naval and air patrols to the east, China aims to demonstrate the vulnerability of Taiwan’s eastern defenses and to signal to the U.S. that resupply efforts to Taiwan from this direction are susceptible to Chinese attacks.

The PLA stated that the drills emphasized joint sea-air combat-readiness patrols, precision strikes on key targets, and integrated operations to test the “joint real combat capabilities” of its forces.

Taiwanese media cited military expert Chieh Chung, who suggested the exercises aim to simulate a full-scale armed invasion of Taiwan.

China has repeatedly conducted encirclement operations around Taiwan with fighter jets and navy ships over the past year, with a notable increase in incursions into Taiwanese waters and airspace leading up to President Lai’s inauguration.

The first major encirclement operation occurred in August 2022, following a visit by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which simulated a blockade of Taiwan with ships, aircraft, and missile strikes.

The PLA described Thursday’s drills as a “strong punishment for the separatist acts of Taiwan independence forces and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces.”

Meanwhile, China’s foreign ministry defended the drills as a “necessary and legitimate move” to safeguard national sovereignty.

In his inauguration address, President Lai called on China to “stop threatening Taiwan.”

Beijing denounced his speech, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi labeling Lai as “disgraceful.”

Following Lai’s election victory in January, Beijing reiterated that “Taiwan is part of China” and has consistently rejected Lai’s offers for talks, branding him a “separatist” and “troublemaker” due to his pro-independence stance.

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