China Conducts Military Drills Around Taiwan in Response to New President's Inauguration

China Conducts Military Drills Around Taiwan in Response to New President's Inauguration

China launched "punishment" drills around Taiwan on Thursday, involving heavily armed warplanes and mock attacks. These exercises were a response to what China termed "separatist acts" following the inauguration of Taiwan's new President Lai Ching-te, whom Beijing views as a "separatist."

The drills, conducted in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan-controlled islands near China's coast, commenced just three days after Lai's inauguration.

Lai's speech had called for China to stop its threats, asserting that Taiwan and China are "not subordinate to each other." China denounced Lai's comments, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi calling him "disgraceful."

Despite Lai's repeated offers for talks, China has consistently rebuffed him, maintaining that only the people of Taiwan can decide their future, rejecting Beijing's sovereignty claims.

The Eastern Theatre Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) announced the start of joint military drills at 7:45 a.m. (2345 GMT), involving the army, navy, air force, and rocket force. These exercises are taking place in various locations around Taiwan, including Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin islands.

Chinese state media reported that dozens of fighter jets carrying live missiles and warships were involved in mock strikes on high-value targets. The two-day drills, named "Joint Sword - 2024A," might have follow-ups, unlike a similar "Joint Sword" exercise in April the previous year.

Taiwan's defense ministry condemned the drills and dispatched forces to monitor the situation, expressing confidence in its ability to protect its territory. The ministry criticized China's militaristic mentality, stating that the exercises do not contribute to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan's presidential office also regretted China's "unilateral military provocations," asserting that Taiwan can ensure its security despite the threats to its democratic freedoms.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV condemned Lai's inauguration speech as harmful, justifying China's military response as "legitimate, legal and necessary." It argued that Taiwan's future should be decided by China's 1.4 billion people, not just Taiwan's 23 million.

A senior Taiwanese official, speaking anonymously, indicated that Taiwan had anticipated these drills and had a comprehensive grasp of Chinese military movements. Taiwan had been vigilant about potential Chinese actions leading up to the inauguration. The drills focus on joint sea-air combat-readiness patrols, precision strikes, and integrated operations to test China's "joint real combat capabilities," serving as a punishment for Taiwan's separatist activities and a warning against external interference.

Chinese state media published a map of the drill zones, located around Taiwan and its nearby islands. Taiwanese officials noted these areas were outside Taiwan's contiguous zone, which extends 24 nautical miles from the main island's coast. No large-scale movements of China's ground and rocket forces were observed, nor were any no-fly zones announced.

Su Tzu-yun, a researcher at Taiwan's Institute for National Defence and Security Research, remarked that the scope of these drills is significant compared to previous exercises, as they include Taiwan's outlying islands. This is intended to demonstrate China's ability to control the seas and deter foreign intervention, with political signals outweighing the military ones.

There was no sign of alarm in Taiwan, where people are accustomed to Chinese military activity. The benchmark stock index (.TWII) was up 0.2% on Thursday, and the foreign exchange market was operating normally, with no abnormal movements of foreign capital.

In August 2022, China conducted extensive live-fire exercises around Taiwan following a visit by former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which were condemned by Beijing and lasted several days.

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