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May 24, 2024, 8:12 am
Politics, World

China conducts military drills around Taiwan as ‘Strong Punishment’

Fiji One News Team
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China has called its drills around Taiwan a strong punishment for separatist acts

China has launched two days of military exercises around Taiwan, described by its military as “strong punishment” for what it terms the island’s “separatist acts.” These drills follow the inauguration of Taiwanese President William Lai, who recently urged China to cease its threats and acknowledge Taiwan’s democratic existence.

Beijing views Taiwan as a breakaway province destined to return under its control, while Taiwan asserts its distinct identity. In response to the drills, Taiwan’s defense ministry condemned them as “irrational provocations,” deploying naval, air, and ground forces to safeguard the island’s sovereignty.

For the first time, these exercises simulated a full-scale attack rather than an economic blockade, Taiwanese military experts noted. The drills encompassed the main island and targeted the Taipei-controlled outlying islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin, located near the Chinese coast.

Drills Reflect Discontent with Taiwan’s New President

The exercises included maneuvers east of Taiwan, signaling that China aims to demonstrate the vulnerability of Taiwan’s eastern defenses and the risk to American resupply efforts. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) emphasized joint sea-air combat-readiness patrols, precision strikes on key targets, and integrated operations to test their “joint real combat capabilities.”

Taiwanese media quoted military expert Chieh Chung, who described the drills as simulating a full-scale armed invasion. The PLA’s statement labeled the exercises as a “strong punishment” for Taiwanese separatists and a warning against foreign interference.

China has ramped up military activity around Taiwan over the past year, with frequent incursions into Taiwanese airspace and waters. Notably, after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit in August 2022, China conducted its first “encirclement” operation, simulating a blockade with ships, aircraft, and missile strikes.

Beijing’s Firm Stance on Taiwan

China’s foreign ministry defended the drills as a “necessary and legitimate move” to safeguard sovereignty. Spokesman Wang Wenbin reiterated that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, a stance Beijing maintains firmly. He declared that Taiwan independence is “doomed to fail.”

President Lai’s inauguration speech called for China to end its threats, prompting a strong rebuke from Beijing. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi labeled Lai as “disgraceful,” and Beijing has repeatedly dismissed Lai’s offers for dialogue, branding him a “separatist” and “troublemaker.”

Taiwan’s defense ministry criticized the drills for highlighting Beijing’s “militaristic mentality” and noted the adverse impact of Chinese military harassment on global peace and stability. Taiwan’s presidential office lamented China’s “unilateral military provocations,” while the Mainland Affairs Council, responsible for cross-strait relations, asserted that Taiwan’s commitment to peace remains unchanged despite Beijing’s tactics.

Although China and Taiwan maintain trade relations, formal communication channels are absent. Most of the international community recognizes China over Taiwan, although the U.S. supports Taiwan’s defense capabilities through legislative measures.

Under Xi Jinping, Beijing’s rhetoric on reunification has intensified, with recent statements affirming its inevitability. Analysts suggest that China’s strategy of grey zone warfare aims to gradually weaken Taiwan without direct invasion, a tactic evident in the ongoing military maneuvers.