June 16, 2024

China ends military drills around Taiwan

China has ended two days of military drills around Taiwan that saw jets loaded with live munitions and warships practise seizing and isolating the self-ruled island. 

The exercises simulated strikes targeting Taiwan’s leaders as well as its ports and airports to “cut off the island’s ‘blood vessels'”, Chinese military analysts told state media.   

Beijing considers the democratic island part of its territory and has not ruled out using force to bring it under its control. 

The war games kicked off Thursday morning, as aircraft and naval vessels surrounded Taiwan to conduct mock attacks against “important targets”, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Codenamed “Joint Sword-2024A”, the exercises were launched three days after Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te took office and made an inauguration speech that China denounced as a “confession of independence”.

Beijing’s defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian said Friday that Lai was pushing Taiwan “into a perilous situation of war and danger”.

“Every time ‘Taiwan independence’ provokes us, we will push our countermeasures one step further” until “complete reunification” is achieved, he said.

The origin of the dispute dates back to the Chinese Civil War, when nationalists fled to Taiwan following their defeat at the hands of the Communist Party in 1949. 

The drills are part of an escalating campaign of intimidation by China, which has carried out a series of such exercises in recent years.

Beijing has also amped up its rhetoric, with its foreign ministry on Thursday saying “Taiwan independence forces will be left with their heads broken and blood flowing”. 

On Saturday, Taiwan’s presidency said it had “a full grasp of the situation and appropriate responses to ensure national security”. 

“China’s recent unilateral provocation not only undermines the status quo… it is also a blatant provocation to the international order,” Presidential Office spokesperson Karen Kuo said.

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