Military maneuvers near Taiwan: China threatens island state and the West

Military maneuvers near Taiwan: China threatens island state and the West

Shortly after the inauguration of the new president in Taiwan, China is rattling its sabers. Beijing is not just demonstrating its power with a military maneuver.

A few days after the inauguration of the new president in Taiwan, China has announced a large-scale military exercise around the East Asian island republic. “This is also a harsh punishment for the separatist forces of Taiwan’s independence and a serious warning against interference and provocation by external forces,” said the spokesman for the Eastern Association of the People’s Liberation Army, Marine Colonel Li Xi, on Thursday. The army, navy, air force and missile forces will hold exercises in the strait between China and Taiwan (Taiwan Strait) and around Taiwan on Thursday and Friday. The exercise is likely to be the largest in about a year.

According to the information, the military wants to train joint combat readiness at sea and in the air as well as attacks on key targets. Ships and aircraft would approach Taiwan from the north and south for “patrols” and also approach several islands, such as the island of Kinmen, which is only a few kilometers from the Chinese mainland.

Beijing also addressed drastic words to Taiwanese independence supporters. “The pro-independence forces will end with shattered skulls and blood” after confronting China’s “grand” plan of “complete unification” with Taiwan, foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing on Thursday.

Taiwan reacts with regret and anger

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry condemned the military exercise as an “irrational provocation” that threatened peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. The armed forces on sea, on the ground and in the air were deployed to “defend freedom and democracy with practical actions,” Taipei said. The ministry did not provide further details about the measures.

Presidential spokeswoman Karen Kuo said it was “regrettable” that China was engaging in “unilateral, provocative military behavior” that threatened Taiwan’s democracy and freedom as well as peace and stability in the region. “In the face of external challenges and threats, we will continue to defend democracy.”

US Indo-Pacific Command deputy commander Stephen Sklenka said Chinese military exercises were expected. “Just because we expect this behavior doesn’t mean we shouldn’t condemn it, and we must publicly condemn it.” The People’s Republic’s actions are “worrying”.

China’s message to Taiwan’s new president

China's military maneuvers off Taiwan

The background to the now announced exercise is likely to be the inauguration of the newly elected Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te on Monday. His Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidential election in January and supports Taiwan’s independence. China had described Lai as a “dangerous separatist” who would bring “war and decline” to the island. Lai said at his inauguration on Monday that Taiwan must demonstrate its “determination in defending the nation in the face of China’s many threats and infiltration attempts.”

The warning should also apply to Taiwan’s allies and in particular the USA, which has assured the island republic of support in the event of a defense and regularly supplies it with weapons, to the annoyance of Beijing.

China considers Taiwan a breakaway province, although independent and democratically elected governments have been in power there for decades. The leadership in Beijing has already threatened several times to unite the island, which has a population of more than 23 million, and the mainland by military force. In addition to regular exercises by the armed forces, fighter planes fly towards Taiwan almost every day to demonstrate the military power of the People’s Liberation Army.

Most recently, China announced similar military exercises around Taiwan in August 2023 after Lai, then vice president, stopped off in the US during a trip to Paraguay. In 2022, China conducted major military exercises after Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the US House of Representatives, visited Taiwan.

Note: This article has been updated.

Source: Stern

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