Home News China launches military drills in ‘stern warning’ to Taiwan after US visit | South China Sea News

China launches military drills in ‘stern warning’ to Taiwan after US visit | South China Sea News

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China launches military drills in ‘stern warning’ to Taiwan after US visit | South China Sea News

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Chinese People’s Liberation Army exercises were expected following Taiwan Vice President William Lai’s stopover in US.

China has launched military exercises around Taiwan, saying the drills were a “stern warning” to separatist forces on the island state – an angry response that was expected from Beijing following a recent visit by Taiwan’s Vice President William Lai to the United States.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command, which has responsibility for the area around Taiwan, said in a brief statement on Saturday morning that it was carrying out joint naval and air combat readiness patrols around Taiwan.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army would be holding joint naval and air force exercises focused on subjects such as ship-aircraft coordination to test seizing control of air and sea spaces, and “actual combat capabilities”, the eastern theatre command said.

“The armed forces’ ability to fight in real combat conditions will be tested,” a spokesperson for the eastern command told China’s state-run Xinhua news.

“The patrols and exercises serve as a stern warning to the collusion of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatists with foreign elements and their provocations,” the spokesperson said, according to Xinhua.

Taiwan’s defence ministry strongly condemned China’s latest military drills near the island, saying on Saturday that it would dispatch appropriate forces to respond and has the ability, determination and confidence to ensure national security.

“The launch of the military exercise this time not only does not help peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait but also highlights [China’s] militaristic mentality,” the ministry said in a statement.

Taiwan’s Vice President Lai, the frontrunner to be Taiwan’s next president at elections in January, returned from the US on Friday, where he had stopped over on his way to and from an official state visit to Paraguay.

Taiwanese officials and analysts had said China was likely to conduct military exercises this week near the island, using Lai’s transit through the US as a pretext to intimidate Taiwanese voters ahead of next year’s presidential election and make them “fear war”.

China’s foreign ministry issued a statement to coincide with Lai’s arrival in the US, saying it was opposed to any form of a visit by “Taiwan independence separatists” to the US.

“Lai stubbornly adheres to the separatist position of Taiwan independence and is a troublemaker through and through,” the ministry said.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory, and Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to take control of the democratic, self-governed island, increasing military activity near the island in recent years in response to what it calls “collusion” between Taipei and Washington.

The Chinese drills launched on Saturday followed shortly after the US, Japan and South Korea hailed “a new era of trilateral partnership” following a meeting at US President Joe Biden’s Camp David retreat in Maryland, where the three powers criticised China’s behaviour in the South China Sea.

In a joint statement Biden, South Korea’s President Yoon Suk-yeol, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said they were resolute in their “determination to uphold regional security, strengthen Indo-Pacific engagement, and promote common prosperity” and condemned Beijing’s “dangerous and aggressive” behaviour in the South China Sea.

Last August, China launched days of large-scale military drills around Taiwan in response to a visit by then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.

Pelosi’s visit led to an unprecedented six days of Chinese military exercises that featured China’s J-20 stealth fighter jets and test firing of conventional missiles.

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