China called the maneuvers a warning to Taipei and “external forces”
Beijing has simulated precision strikes on Taiwan and the surrounding waters during a combined military exercise around the island, Chinese state media reported on Sunday. The maneuvers, involving an aircraft carrier, were launched in response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s trip to the US.
The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said nine naval vessels and 71 warplanes had been detected near the island as of Sunday morning. It added that 45 aircraft, including fighter jets, surveillance planes, and drones, crossed into the island’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ). Taiwan’s own patrol planes, as well as Navy ships and land-based missile systems, were activated to “respond [to] these activities,” the ministry said.
Senior Colonel Shi Yi, spokesman for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command, said on Saturday that ships and planes were “encircling” Taiwan as part of the exercise. Shi described the drills as a warning “against the collusion between separatist forces seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ and external forces and against their provocative activities.”
The three-day wargames named ‘United Sharp Sword’ were launched on Saturday following Tsai’s return from the US. Beijing views Taiwan, which has been ruled by a separate government since the late 1940s, as its sovereign territory, and opposes any forms of diplomatic recognition of the Taipei authorities. On Friday, Beijing blacklisted two Taiwan-based groups it accused of promoting the island’s independence.
As part of her 10-day Central and North American tour, Tsai met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who vowed to continue support for Taipei. “I believe our bond is stronger now than at any time or point in my lifetime,” the Republican congressman said.
A US delegation led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul arrived in Taiwan on Thursday. McCaul, who met with Tsai upon her return from the US, accused Beijing of “saber rattling” and warned that it should “think twice about invading.”
Officials in Beijing have stated that they seek peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but have accused Washington of meddling in its domestic affairs and encouraging “secessionist” politicians on the island.
Washington officially supports the One China policy, which means that there can be only one Chinese government. Nevertheless, the US has sold weapons to Taiwan and promised to defend the island in case of an attack from the mainland.
Tsai’s meeting with McCarthy on Wednesday marked the second time she had met with a US House speaker in less than a year. A visit by McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, to Taiwan in August prompted Beijing to stage its largest-ever drills in the Taiwan Strait.
April 09, 2023 at 02:38PM