China begins military drills near Taiwan, says they ‘serve as stern warning’

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China launched military drills around Taiwan on Saturday, which it described as a “strict warning” to the self-governing island’s government after a meeting between its President and the Speaker of the US House of Representatives.

The three-day operation, dubbed the United Sharp Sword, will last through Monday, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command said in a statement.

It will be held in “the sea areas and airspace of the Taiwan Strait, off the north and south coasts of the island and in the east of the island,” said Shi Yin, a PLA spokesman, according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Taiwan Navy warships
Two warships of Taiwan Navy anchor in Keelung, Taiwan, April 7, 2023.

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China on Thursday began using warships around Taiwan. Three Chinese warships have sailed through waters around Taiwan in the past 24 hours, according to the island’s defense ministry.

The exercise Monday will also include live-fire drills off the coast of China’s Fujian province, which faces Taiwan, the local maritime authority said in a statement.

The drills come after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen angered Beijing by meeting House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Republican Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said: led a house delegation who has traveled to Taiwan to meet with Taiwanese business leaders and senior government officials “to discuss how the US can strengthen our economic and defense ties with Taiwan in the face of growing threats in the region,” his office said.

China regards democratic, self-governing Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to one day take it, by force if necessary.

“These operations serve as a stern warning of collusion between separatist forces seeking ‘Taiwan independence’ and outside forces and their provocative activities,” said the PLA’s Shi.

“The operations are necessary to uphold China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

The exercises also follow the departure of French President Emmanuel Macron and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen from Beijing, who were in China to urge Xi Jinping to help end the war in Ukraine.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry on Saturday hit back at Beijing’s announcement of the drills, saying they threaten regional stability.

China is using Tsai’s US visit as “an excuse to conduct military exercises that have seriously undermined regional peace, stability and security,” the ministry said.

Last August, China deployed warships, missiles and warplanes around Taiwan in its biggest show of force in years after McCarthy’s predecessor, Nancy Pelosi, traveled to the island.

McCarthy originally planned to go to Taiwan himself. The decision to meet in California instead was seen as a compromise that would underscore support for Taiwan but avoid tensions with Beijing.

There were no immediate signs of increased military activity on Pingtan, a southwest Chinese island closest to Taiwan.

A handful of cargo ships cruised the waters near shore while tourists in sunglasses and baseball caps took selfies on the observation decks.

However, the Fujian provincial maritime authority warned ships not to enter waters near the live-fire drills on Monday.

Tsai returned to Taiwan on Friday after visiting her island’s dwindling group of official diplomatic allies in Latin America, with two stops in the US including meetings with McCarthy and other lawmakers.

“We let the international community see that Taiwan is more united when it faces pressure and threats,” she told reporters, describing her trip as a success, adding, “We will never give in to oppression.”

Hours before meeting McCarthy on Wednesday, China sent its Shandong aircraft carrier through Taiwan’s southeastern waters on its way to the western Pacific.

Beijing earlier Friday said that “Taiwan is an inseparable part of China” after repeatedly warning about the Tsai-McCarthy meeting.

“China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity will never be shared,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular news conference.

“Taiwan’s future lies in reunification with the motherland.”



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