China carries out war drills near Taiwan as “punishment” for its “separatist acts”

China carries out war drills near Taiwan as “punishment” for its “separatist acts”
China carries out war drills near Taiwan as “punishment” for its “separatist acts”

China began “punishment” exercises around Taiwan on Thursday in what it called a response to “separatist acts,” sending heavily armed warplanes and simulating attacks, while state media denounced newly inaugurated President Lai Ching. tea.

The maneuvers, in the Taiwan Strait and around groups of islands controlled by Taiwan that sit off the Chinese coast, take place just three days after the inauguration of Lai, whom Beijing detests as a “separatist.”

China, which considers democratically governed Taiwan its own territory, has denounced Lai’s inauguration speech on Monday, in which he called on China to cease its threats and said the two sides of the strait “are not subordinate each other.”

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On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Lai “shameful.”

Lai has repeatedly offered to hold talks with China but has been rebuffed. He claims that only the people of Taiwan can decide its future and rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

The Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reported that it had begun joint military exercises, involving the army, navy, air force and land missile force, in areas near Taiwan at 7.45 hours (2345 GMT).

The exercises are being carried out in the Taiwan Strait, northern, southern and eastern Taiwan, as well as in areas around the Taiwan-controlled islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin, the command said in a statement.

Chinese state media claimed that China sent dozens of fighter jets with real missiles and conducted mock attacks, along with warships, against high-value military targets.

The exercises, called “Joint Sword – 2024A”, will last two days. However, unlike a similar exercise called “Joint Sword” that was held in April of last year, these drills are labeled “A”, opening the door for possible continuations.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry condemned the drills, saying it had sent forces to areas around the island, that its air defenses and ground missile forces were tracking targets and that it was confident it could protect its territory.

“The launch of military exercises on this occasion not only does not contribute to the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait, but also reveals (China’s) militaristic mentality,” the ministry said.

Taiwan’s presidential office regretted that China threatened the island’s democratic freedoms and regional peace and stability with its “unilateral military provocations,” but said the population could be assured that Taiwan could guarantee their security.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said Lai’s inauguration speech was “extremely damaging” and that China’s countermeasures are “legitimate, legal and necessary.”

Lai’s speech was a confession of Taiwan’s desire for independence and undermined cross-strait peace and stability, he said.

Taiwan’s future can only be decided by China’s 1.4 billion people, and not just the 23 million Taiwanese, he added.

NO SURPRISE

A senior Taiwanese official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told Reuters that the drills were part of a scenario that Taiwan had planned and that the island’s government had “exhaustive knowledge” of Chinese military movements.

Taiwanese authorities had declared on the eve of the inauguration that they were monitoring Chinese military movements. The last time China staged large-scale war exercises near Taiwan was in 2023 and 2022.

The drills focus on joint sea-air combat readiness patrols, precision strikes against key targets and integrated operations inside and outside the island chain to test the forces’ “joint real combat capabilities,” they said. the Chinese military.

“This is also a strong punishment for the separatist acts of Taiwan independence forces and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces,” the command added.

Chinese state media published a map of the exercise zones, in five areas around Taiwan and the islands that Taiwan controls near the Chinese coast.

Taiwanese officials told Reuters those areas were outside Taiwan’s contiguous zone, which is 24 nautical miles off the coast of the main island.

One of the officials said China has not announced any no-fly zone, nor has Taiwan observed large-scale movements of Chinese ground and strategic missile forces.

Su Tzu-yun, a researcher at the National Defense and Security Research Institute, Taiwan’s main military think tank, said that although the maneuvers will only last two days, their scope is larger than previous exercises, as they include the Taiwan’s outlying islands.

This is intended to demonstrate China’s ability to control the seas and prevent the participation of foreign forces, he stated.

“The political signals are greater than the military ones,” he added.

There were no warning signs in Taiwan, where the population has long been accustomed to Chinese military activity. The benchmark stock index, currently at record highs, rose 0.2% on Thursday.

“The drills will have a short-term psychological impact, but will not reverse the long-term bullish trend of Taiwan stocks,” said Mega International Investment Services Vice President Alex Huang.

A central bank official told Reuters the currency market was functioning normally, with no abnormal inflows or outflows of foreign capital.

In August 2022, China launched live-fire military exercises around Taiwan, immediately following a visit, widely condemned by Beijing, by former US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. That series of exercises, whose scale was unprecedented, lasted four days, followed by several days of additional drills.

With information from Reuters

 
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