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Taiwan: China drills a blatant provocation
Published on: Sunday, May 26, 2024
By: AFP
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Taiwan: China drills a blatant provocation
A soldier leading a Chinese rocket launcher at a base during the “Joint Sword-2024A” military drill in eastern China’s Fujian province.
TAIPEI: China’s two-day military drills around Taiwan were a “blatant provocation to the international order”, Taipei said in a statement Saturday after the war games encircling the self-ruled island ended.

The drills were launched three days after Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te took office and made an inauguration speech that China denounced as a “confession of independence”.

In a statement, Lai’s presidential spokesperson Karen Kuo reiterated that ensuring peace and stability across the region was “related to the common interests of the international community”.

“However, China’s recent unilateral provocation not only undermines the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait but it is also a blatant provocation to the international order, triggering serious concern and condemnation from the international community,” she said.

Kuo added that Taiwan hopes “China will take the safety and happiness of the people on both sides into consideration, pursue mutual benefit, coexistence... stop all kinds of political and military intimidations on Taiwan and the region”.

Self-ruled Taiwan has its own democratically elected government, military and currency, but Beijing has said it would never renounce the potential use of force to bring the island under its control.

Chinese military analysts told state news agency Xinhua that the People’s Liberation Army vessels had inched “closer than ever before” to Taiwan’s shores during the two-day military drills.

The exercises involved simulating strikes targeting the island’s leaders as well as its ports and airports, they said.

In regards to China’s various military actions, Kuo said that “the president and the national security team have a full grasp of the situation” and called for the public to “rest assured”.

The war games codenamed “Joint Sword-2024A”, kicked off Thursday morning, as aircraft and naval vessels surrounded Taiwan to conduct mock attacks against “important targets”, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Beijing’s defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Friday that Lai was pushing Taiwan “into a perilous situation of war and danger”.

Beijing has also amped up its rhetoric, with its foreign ministry on Thursday using language more typical of China’s propaganda outlets.

A total of 111 Chinese aircraft and dozens of naval vessels took part in the drills over two days, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.

Meng Xiangqing, a professor from Beijing-based National Defense University, told state news agency Xinhua that People’s Liberation Army vessels “were getting closer to the island than ever before”.

The scale of the most recent drills was “significant, but is nowhere near as big, it seems, as last August’s”, Wen-Ti Sung, a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, told AFP.

Sung and other analysts told AFP that the geographic scope of the exercises had increased, with a new focus on isolating Taiwan’s outlying islands.

Tong Zhen, an expert from the Academy of Military Sciences, told Xinhua the drills “mainly targeted the ringleaders and political centre of ‘Taiwan independence’, and involved simulated precision strikes on key political and military targets”.

The dispute has long made the Taiwan Strait one of the world’s most dangerous flashpoints.

“Beijing is trying to use this very high-profile show of force to not only show displeasure against Taiwan, but also... to deter and dissuade other countries and partners from contemplating further cooperation or engagement of Taiwan,” said the Atlantic Council’s Sung.

“That furthers isolation of Taiwan, which allows Beijing to negotiate with Taiwan going forward from a position of strength.”

Chinese military analyst Meng noted that the drills to the east—considered by the PLA the most likely direction from which external intervention could come—was designed to reinforce that message.

“’Taiwan independence’ separatists have long considered the island’s eastern direction to be their backyard and ‘shelter’, but the drills have shown that we can control that eastern area,” Meng told Xinhua. 

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