“Strong punishment”: China begins two days of military exercises around Taiwan | Military news

“Strong punishment”: China begins two days of military exercises around Taiwan |  Military news

The exercises begin three days after William Lai Cheng Te was sworn in as president of the island that China claims.

China has begun two days of military exercises in the waters and airspace around the self-ruled island of Taiwan, according to Chinese state media.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency said the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command began training at 7:45 a.m. (23:45 GMT) on Thursday in the Taiwan Strait and northern, southern and eastern Taiwan, as well as regions. Around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wokyo and Donjin.

Military spokesman Colonel Li Shi said the joint exercises involving the army, navy, air force and missile force served as “strong punishment for the separatist actions of Taiwan independence forces and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces.” In a post on the Chinese messaging platform Weibo.

The show of force, codenamed “Common Sword 2024A”, comes three days after Taiwan’s new president, William Lai Ching-ti, was sworn in and called on Beijing to stop its “terrorism” of the island, which China claims as its own. queen.

Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its goal of unification, and has reacted angrily to the inauguration of Lai, a man it considers a “troublemaker” and “separatist.”

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had put its army on “high alert” in response to the Chinese drills, which it described as “provocations and irrational actions that impede regional peace and stability.”

Bonnie Glaser, executive director of the Indo-Pacific Program at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, noted that Beijing’s reaction to Lai’s election win in January was relatively restrained.

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“It is clear that the People’s Republic of China has decided to wait until he delivers his inaugural speech and then determine its response,” she told Al Jazeera, referring to China by the initials of its official name.

“It is clear that Beijing strongly opposes what it sees as an attempt to develop a comprehensive narrative of ‘Taiwan independence’ with the aim of changing the nature of cross-Strait relations. I expect that they will roll out a series of military, political and economic measures over the coming weeks and months.”

Lai was sworn in as Taiwan’s new president on Monday [Taiwan Presidential Office via AFP]

In Lai’s first speech to the public after being sworn in, he said that “the Republic of China and Taiwan are a sovereign and independent country with sovereignty in the people” and stressed that his government would not make any concessions on its democracy and freedoms. .

He called on Beijing to “stop its aggression against Taiwan” and seek to “maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region.”

“dominant nature”

The next day, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticized.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry quoted Wang as saying during a meeting of foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan, “The ugly actions of Lai Qing-ti and others who are betraying the nation and their ancestors are shameful.”

He added that nothing can prevent China from achieving “reunification” and returning Taiwan “to the motherland.” “All separatists for Taiwan independence will be nailed to the pillar of shame in history.”

In an editorial on Wednesday, the state-run Global Times described Lai’s first speech as president as “despicable behaviour” and claimed his speech was “full of hostility, provocation, lies and deceit”.

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China has intensified its military activities across the island since Tsai Ing-wen, Lai’s predecessor and also a member of the Democratic Progressive Party, was elected to her first term as president in 2016. It has often taken more aggressive actions when Taiwanese officials meet with politicians from the United States, Taiwan’s main ally. They conducted an unprecedented series of war games after then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island in August 2022.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said such actions caused “great damage to global peace and stability.”

She added that the recent military exercises were conducted “under false pretenses” and highlighted China’s “hegemonic nature.”

There may be more to come, said Wen Tee Song, a specialist on Taiwan and China and a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Center.

He pointed out, “This round of military exercises has the code name ‘Joint Sword-2024A.’” The suffix “A” indicates the possibility of future “B” rounds, and perhaps “C” rounds. Beijing is flexing its muscles in the wake of Lai’s inauguration as president to unequivocally signal Beijing’s displeasure. But this is the “signal”. The real “punishment” is yet to come.

China considers the Democratic Progressive Party a “separatist” bent on independence. Tsai and Lai, whose victory marks a historic third term for the Democratic Progressive Party, say the people of Taiwan should be the ones to choose their future.

With Erin Hill reporting in Taiwan.

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