China deploys military exercises around Taiwan as “strong punishment” for the new president | International

China deploys military exercises around Taiwan as “strong punishment” for the new president | International
China deploys military exercises around Taiwan as “strong punishment” for the new president | International

This Thursday, China deployed a war exercise around Taiwan just three days after the inauguration of the new Taiwanese president, Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing calls a “dangerous” secessionist. The maneuvers aim to impose a “strong punishment” against what the People’s Republic considers “separatist forces seeking independence” of this self-governed island, according to a statement issued this Thursday by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA, the Chinese army).

The Asian giant’s government had already accused the new Taiwanese leader on Tuesday of having taken a “more radical” stance in his inauguration speech on Monday, and warned that it would take countermeasures. The response is reminiscent of Beijing’s response in 2022 to the visit to Taipei of the then speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

Beijing considers Taiwan an inalienable part of its territory and sees the new Government of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as a threat to its interests towards reunification, which it seeks through peaceful means, but without renouncing force, if necessary. In his speech, Lai called on China to “face the fact of the existence” of Taiwan, abandon “political and military intimidation” and replace “confrontation with dialogue” to unitedly pursue “peace and prosperity.” The Republic of China (official name of Taiwan) and the People’s Republic of China “are not subordinate to each other,” Lai added in one of the passages that has most irritated Beijing.

The deployment, by sea and air, in which Chinese fighters, destroyers and amphibious ships participate, will surround the island of Taiwan (main Taiwanese territory) and the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin (located in the strait, a step away from of mainland China, but under the control of the Taipei Government), according to maps of the exercise released by Chinese state media. Baptized “Joint Sword”, the war theater started in the morning at 7:45 (local time), will continue until Friday, and is also intended to be a “serious warning against interference and provocation by foreign forces”, according to the cited EPL statement.

The Taiwanese government has regretted what it considers a “provocation” that threatens “the status quo of regional peace and stability” and has shown confidence in his national security teams, according to a spokesperson for the presidential office and reported by the Taiwanese agency CNA. The Ministry of National Defense has added that it is closely monitoring the exercises, that it is taking response measures with its maritime, air and land troops, and that “it is prepared to safeguard the security of Taiwan,” according to the aforementioned agency.

Naval Colonel Li Xi, spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese PLA, has assured that the exercise involves the mobilization of the army, navy, air force, rocket force, and will seek “the joint takeover of comprehensive control of the field battle and the joint precision attack against key objectives,” according to a statement reported in the Chinese media.

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Simultaneously, the coast guard of the Chinese province of Fujian announced this Thursday another exercise in which a fleet of ships sailed near the aforementioned islands of Wuqiu and Dongyin. The Chinese official newspaper Global Times assures that these coast guard ships would have entered restricted Taiwanese waters for the first time.

“I don’t think they will come to blows, but China will probably use it to push the red lines even further,” a diplomatic source based in Beijing assesses the situation in a message.

“I think it will still be kept under control,” adds Dr. Lin Ying-Yu, assistant professor at Tamkang University (Taiwan), who specializes in the capabilities of the Chinese PLA, in a telephone conversation. In his opinion, the exercise “will be a warning”, but he does not expect Beijing to deploy its full military potential, since Lai Ching-te’s mandate has only just begun. He believes that the theater of war will not be as harsh as the response to Pelosi’s stay, when Chinese missiles flew over the island.

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