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Conflicts: China exercises blockade of Taiwan with major maneuvers

Conflicts: China exercises blockade of Taiwan with major maneuvers

China’s military regularly exercises off Taiwan’s coast. But an event a few days ago particularly angered the Communist Party in Beijing. The large-scale maneuver is not just intended to be a signal to Taiwan.

As both a “punishment” and a “warning” – China has begun a large-scale military exercise around the East Asian island republic shortly after the inauguration of the new president in Taiwan.

“This is also a severe punishment for the separatist forces of Taiwan independence and a serious warning against interference and provocation by external forces,” said People’s Liberation Army East Division spokesman Marine Colonel Li Xi. The Army, Navy, Air Force and the Missile Forces held exercises in the China-Taiwan Strait (Taiwan Strait) and around Taiwan from Thursday morning (local time) to Friday.

The Taiwanese Ministry of Defense reported that at least 15 Chinese navy ships, 16 Chinese coast guard ships and more than 40 Chinese fighter jets had been spotted around the island.

According to the information, the Chinese military wants to train joint combat readiness at sea and in the air as well as attacks on key targets. Ships and planes would approach Taiwan from the north, south and east for “patrols” and would also come close to several islands, such as the island of Kinmen, just a few kilometers from mainland China. The Taiwan Strait is around 130 kilometers wide at its narrowest point.

Military expert on goals: Prevent energy imports and US support

Military expert Zhang Chi said on Chinese state television that China was simulating a blockade of Taiwan. The army wants to practice stopping energy imports “as a lifeline” to Taiwan, cutting off escape routes abroad for Taiwan’s politicians and preventing support from allies such as the USA. The exercise is likely to be the largest since April 2023, in which China also rehearsed a blockade. The exercises were in accordance with international law and were fully justified and necessary, said Chinese Foreign Office spokesman Wang Wenbin. All separatist forces for Taiwan independence would be “shattered in the face of the historical development of the complete reunification of China,” he said.

Taiwan’s Vice Defense Minister Po Horng-huei said the aim this time was obviously to show that China has control over the region. Unlike a large-scale exercise following the visit of then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in August 2022, China has not designated any no-go zones for ships or aircraft this time, he explained.

In the morning report by the Taiwanese Ministry of Defense on the activities of the People’s Liberation Army over the past 24 hours, there was only mention of one Chinese fighter plane and eight naval ships around Taiwan. The numbers could possibly be significantly higher in Friday’s report. No figures were initially available from the Chinese side.

Criticism from Taiwan: “Irrational provocation”

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry condemned the military exercise as an “irrational provocation” that endangers peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. Taiwanese forces on land, sea and in the air were deployed to defend “freedom and democracy with practical actions,” Taipei said. The ministry did not provide any further details on the measures. “It is regrettable to see the unilateral military provocations that endanger Taiwan’s democracy and freedom as well as peace and stability,” said presidential spokeswoman Kuo Ya-hui.

The background to the now announced exercise is likely to be the swearing in of Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te last Monday. His Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won the presidential election in January and supports independence for Taiwan, although Lai has not yet indicated that he would officially declare this. The ruling Communist Party in Beijing accuses the DPP of separatism. China’s government had seen Lai’s inaugural speech as a dangerous signal for independence and read it as a more radical approach. Lai had demanded that China accept Taiwan’s existence.

Warning also to Taiwan’s allies

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.

The exercise is also likely to serve as a warning to Taiwan’s allies, particularly the United States, which has pledged support to the island republic in the event of a defense and regularly supplies it with weapons, much to Beijing’s annoyance.

Source: Stern

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