Home News China conducts military drills near Taiwan as “punishment”

China conducts military drills near Taiwan as “punishment”

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China began two days of military drills around the island on Thursday after Taiwan’s new president pledged to defend the country’s sovereignty when he took office, describing the move as “severe punishment” for Taiwan’s opposition.

The drill is China’s first substantive response to Monday’s presidential inauguration in Taipei. Beijing does not like Lai Qingde.Lai Ching-te’s party insists that Taiwan and China are independent countries and has made a high-profile statement Inaugural Address On Monday, he vowed to ensure Taiwan’s democracy is free from Chinese pressure.

China claims Taiwan as its territory and the response to Lai’s speech was mainly harsh criticism. But on Thursday, China escalated its response, announcing it was holding air and sea exercises that would encircle Taiwan and approach Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin Islands in the Taiwan Strait.

China did not disclose how many aircraft and ships it deployed in the drills, but the last large-scale drills it conducted in multiple locations around Taiwan were in April last year in response to Visit Taiwan Former Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy.

“Such exercises put pressure on Taiwan and its outlying islands, threaten regional stability and increase the risk of conflict,” said Ou Sifu, a researcher at the Taiwan Institute for National Defense and Security Studies, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense.

According to Chinese state media, Li Xi, spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, said the exercise was a “severe punishment” for “Taiwan independence forces” and a stern warning against interference and provocation by “Taiwan independence” forces. “External power” refers to the United States.

While Mr. Lai pledged to protect Taiwan, he also tried to strike a conciliatory tone in other ways, suggesting he remained willing to hold talks with Beijing (which China had frozen in 2016) and resume cross-strait tourism. But China has bristled at Mr. Lai’s claims of equality — he has said the two sides are “not subordinate to each other” — as well as his emphasis on Taiwan’s democratic identity and warnings about threats from China.

After the speech, Beijing accused Lai of pushing for Taiwan’s formal independence and said the new president was more dangerous than his predecessor. China’s top foreign policy official Wang Yi said this week: “The ugly behavior of Lai Qingde and others who betrayed the country and ancestors is outrageous,” China’s foreign ministry said. “All Taiwan independence separatists will be nailed to the pillar of shame of history.”

Taiwanese officials and military experts have been expecting a Chinese show of military power since Lai took office. Ma Zhenkun, a professor at Taiwan’s National Defense University, said pressure from the PLA is likely to continue, including around Kinmen and Matsu, islands controlled by Taiwan close to mainland China.

Chris Buckley Contributed reporting.

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