China Launches Three-Day Military Drills Around Taiwan

Sat Apr 08 2023
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BEIJING: China has launched a three-day military operation, dubbed “United Sharp Sword,” around Taiwan, pledging to “safeguard” its sovereignty.

The operation includes rehearsals of an encirclement of Taiwan and will involve planes, ships, and personnel in the maritime areas and airspace of the Taiwan Strait, off the southern and northern coasts of the island, and to the island’s east, according to the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Eastern Theatre Command.

The drills come after a meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.

Taiwan’s defence ministry has denounced the drills and pledged to work with “the US and other like-minded countries” against “continued authoritarian expansionism.”

By Saturday afternoon, nine Chinese warships and 71 military aircraft had been detected around the island, according to Taiwan’s defence ministry.

The drills will conclude with live-fire exercises on Monday off the coast of China’s Fujian province.

China views Taiwan as a part of its territory

China views Taiwan as a part of its territory and has vowed to seize it one day, by force, if necessary.

The drills are seen as a “stern warning” against the collusion between separatist forces seeking “Taiwan independence” and external forces and against their provocative activities, said the PLA’s Shi Yin.

Chinese military analyst Song Zhongping said the exercises were intended to demonstrate that the Chinese army will be ready to “solve the Taiwan issue once and for all” if “provocation intensifies.”

The manoeuvres also follow the departure of French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Chief Ursula von der Leyen from Beijing, where they urged President Xi Jinping to end the war in Ukraine.

The decision to meet Tsai in California instead of Taiwan was viewed as a compromise that would underscore support for Taiwan but avoid inflaming tensions with Beijing.

The future of Taiwan lies in reunification with the motherland, said foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning, adding that “Taiwan is an inseparable part of China.”

However, Tsai has pledged to work with like-minded countries and defend Taiwan’s territory and sovereignty.

The drills are also seen as a way for China to score political points domestically and demonstrate its nationalist credentials.

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