China Launches Major Military Drills Near Taiwan

Written by Henrik Rothen

May.23 - 2024 3:30 PM CET

China initiates large-scale military drills near Taiwan, warning against separatism.

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China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has initiated large-scale joint military exercises involving naval, air, and missile forces near Taiwan, the Chinese Ministry of Defense announced.

Military Drills Begin Amid Rising Tensions

The exercises began on May 23 at 7:45 AM local time and are set to continue until May 24.

They are taking place in the Taiwan Strait, to the north, south, and east of Taiwan, as well as near the Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin islands.

The objective is to test the "real combat capabilities of troops in theater operations" through sea and air patrols, controlling the situation during combat, and precision targeting.

"This is also a severe punishment for separatist forces seeking Taiwan independence and a stern warning against provocations and interference by external forces," stated Colonel Li Xi, chairman of the Eastern Theater Command of the PLA.

China's Harsh Warnings

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin echoed this sentiment, warning that "forces advocating for Taiwan independence will end up with shattered skulls after colliding with China's grand scheme of complete reunification."

Taiwan's Response to the Drills

The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense confirmed the start of the drills, noting that around 6:00 AM local time, 12 Chinese ships and one aircraft were detected near the island. "The aircraft entered Taiwan's air defense identification zone in the southwest and southeast. The armed forces of Taiwan monitored the situation and responded appropriately," the ministry stated, labeling China's drills as a "provocation" that undermines regional peace and security.

New Taiwanese President's Message to Beijing

On May 20, Taiwan inaugurated its new president, Lai Ching-te. The new leader called on Beijing to recognize the independence of the island nation.

"I urge China to stop intimidating Taiwan through political and military means, and to join Taiwan in taking global responsibility for maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and throughout the region, so that the world does not fear the outbreak of war," Lai said.

In response, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council of China stated that Taiwan's independence is incompatible with peace in the Taiwan Strait. China views Taiwan as part of its territory and perceives any foreign support for the island's authorities, including visits by foreign delegations, as an infringement on Chinese sovereignty. Taiwan, however, firmly rejects China's "one country, two systems" model, which Beijing has promoted since the 1980s.

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