Conflicts & War

Taiwan slams ‘irrational’ Chinese military drills around island

(Update 1: adds Taiwan’s response to Chinese drills, changes headline, lede)

Beijing, Apr 8 (EFE).- Taiwan on Saturday slammed the military exercises being carried out by China around the island following Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s recent visit to the United States.

“We condemn such an irrational act that has jeopardized regional security and stability,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Twitter.

“ROC (Taiwan’s official name) Armed forces have monitored the situation and tasked CAP aircraft, Navy vessels, and land-based missile systems to respond (to) these activities,” it added.

In another tweet, the ministry said that it had detected 42 Chinese military aircraft and 8 vessels by 11 am on Saturday.

Twenty-nine aircraft crossed the northern, central, and southern median line of the Taiwan Strait and entered the island’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) “attempting coercion on us,” it said.

The median line of the Taiwan Strait has functioned for decades as a de facto border between China and Taiwan.

In the past two years, Chinese military planes have entered Taiwan’s ADIZ multiple times with the incursions intensifying when tensions between the two territories have escalated.

Earlier on Saturday, the Eastern Theater of Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army kicked off combat readiness patrol and military exercises around Taiwan, days after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen met US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other lawmakers in California

The drills, underway in the airspace and maritime areas of the Taiwan Strait, off the northern, southern and eastern coasts of the island, will conclude on Monday, senior Colonel Shi Yi, a spokesperson at PLA Eastern Theater Command, said in a statement.

Shi Yi described the drills as a stern warning to “Taiwan independence” secessionist forces and their collusion with external forces, and a necessary move to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, state-run newspaper Global Times reported.

China on Thursday condemned the activities of Tsai in the US, a country it accused of “collusion” with Taiwan, adding that it will “take resolute and effective measures to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Meanwhile, the maritime security authority of the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian, located off Taiwan, warned in two statements that live-fire exercises will be held in the waters near the Chinese coast of the province on Apr. 8, 11, 13 , 15, 17 and 20, Global Times reported.

On Friday, China imposed sanctions against Hsiao Bi-khim, Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the United States, for allegedly seeking US support for the island’s independence agenda to provoke confrontation in the Strait of Formosa.

China also announced sanctions against the Hudson Institute and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for “providing a platform” to Tsai to “participate in separatist activities.”

The Taiwanese leader, who made a stopover in the US on her return from an official trip to Central America, gave a speech Thursday at an event organized by the Hudson Institute, which awarded her its Global Leadership Award, in addition to meeting US lawmakers in the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library the previous day.

The meeting between McCarthy and Tsai ruffled many Chinese feathers in a reminder of the angry response to then-House leader Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan trip in August last year.

In response to Pelosi’s trip, China conducted military drills, encircling the self-ruled island, and sent warplanes across the median live that divides the Taiwan Strait.

Beijing also suspended contact with the US over several important issues.

Taiwan is one of the key sources of tension between China and the US, mainly because Washington is Taipei’s key arms supplier and could be its greatest military ally in the event of a war with China.

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