China says Taiwan encirclement drills a ”serious warning”
Recent Chinese air and sea drills simulating an encirclement of Taiwan were a stark warning to pro-independence politicians on the self-ruled island and their foreign backers, a Chinese spokesman said Wednesday.
China warned that the three days of large-scale air and sea drills dubbed Joint Sword, which ended Monday, were a response to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy during a trip to the US last week in California. If that encounter happens, there will be dire consequences.
“The People’s Liberation Army has recently organized a series of countermeasures in the Taiwan Strait and the surrounding waters, which is a serious warning against the collusion and provocation of Taiwan independence separatist forces and external forces,” said Zhu Fenglian, a spokesman for Taiwan’s Cabinet Office, at a biweekly press conference.
It is a necessary step to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity, he said.
China claims Taiwan as its own territory, to be brought under its control by force if necessary, and regularly sends ships and warplanes into the air and sea areas near the island.
Such missions have become more frequent in recent years, along with increasingly militant language from the administration of Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. Any conflict between the two sides could come within Taiwan’s closest ally, the United States, which is required by law to treat all threats to the island as matters of grave concern.
Despite the formal end of the drills, China continued military pressure against Taiwan.
On Wednesday, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said it had tracked 35 planes by People’s Liberation Army fighter jets and eight naval vessels in waters around the island in the past 24 hours.
The majority of Taiwanese want to retain their current status of de facto independence, while Tsai has said the island democracy is already an independent state and does not need a formal declaration.
Despite this, China, which does not recognize Taiwan’s government institutions, has severed ties with Tsai’s administration, routinely accusing it of plotting formal independence with outside support generally seen as referring to the United States.
Zhu said that outside forces are intensifying their efforts to control China using Taiwan as a tool.
Zhu reiterated China’s insistence that its military threats are aimed at Taiwan’s independence separatist activities and interference by outside powers, and not in any way at our compatriots in Taiwan.
Although Beijing has long exploited political divisions within Taiwanese society, what this means in practice is unclear, which boasts strong democracy and strong civil rights.
Taiwanese comrades must clearly recognize the provocation of the Taiwan Independence Forces cross the Taiwan Strait and the grave harm to peace and stability, recognize the interests, distinguish between right and wrong, and stand on the right side of history, Zhu said. .
The Chinese military issued a threat as it wrapped up the drills that its troops could fight at any time to resolutely thwart attempts at Taiwan independence and foreign intervention.
In August, after then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, China launched missile attacks on targets in the waters around Taiwan and sent warships and warplanes over the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
It fired missiles at the island that landed in a significant expansion of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
Taiwan has reported more than 200 sorties by Chinese fighter jets, and recent exercises have focused heavily on air power. On Monday alone, Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense tracked down 91 flights by Chinese fighter jets.
According to Japanese officials, they also had the use of China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Shandong, which launched dozens of J-15 Flying Shark fighter missions during the exercises.
It comes as the USS Nimitz carrier group is operating in the South China Sea south of Taiwan, and US and Philippine forces are conducting their largest military exercises in decades in Philippine waters across the disputed South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. (AP) FZH 04121131