The Chinese Army carried out military exercises by sea and air around Taiwan on Saturday, which it described as a Beijing’s “irrational provocation” in retaliation for recent stops in the United States by Taiwanese Vice President William Lai, whom China accuses of “seek US support for Taiwan independence”.
William Lai (also known as Lai Ching-te), returned to Taipei this Friday after visiting Paraguay -one of the 13 countries that maintain official ties with Taiwan and the only one in South America- and make two stops in the United States on their way to and from the South American country.
Third exercises over the Strait
The spokesman for the Eastern Theater Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA, Chinese Army), Colonel Shi Yi, said in a statement that the maneuvers are a “serious warning” separatist groups on the island and the external forces that support them, and that aim “test the actual combat capability of the troops.”
The operations took place to the north and southwest of the island, according to the spokesman, and included exercises to “achieve air superiority” and “control the sea” and “anti-submarine” actions.
Local military experts quoted by the Global Times newspaper point out that this is “the third operation against secessionist forces” after the maneuvers that China carried out in August 2022, when the then president of the US Legislature, Nancy Pelosi, visited the island and after the scales last March in the United States of the current island president, Tsai Ing-wenin which met with Pelosi’s successor, Kevin McCarthy.
Although the Chinese military today gave few details about the operations or explained for how many days they will last, they appear to be on a smaller scale than those of the two previous occasions, when long-range missiles were used and Chinese military ships were located just a few kilometers from the south coast of the island.
Unlike Tsai, Lai, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate for the territory’s upcoming presidential election, did not meet with US officials during his stays in the United States and focused on the Taiwanese community in the North American country.
However, the Taiwan Affairs Office of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee stated that Lai’s actions “have shown that he is a true troublemaker pushing Taiwan to the dangerous brink of war,” while which ensured that the island politician “continually provokes” by relying on the United States and “has offered to be a pawn of Western anti-Chinese forces.”
For its part, the Taiwan Ministry of Defense expressed its “strong condemnation” of the maneuvers and described them as an “irrational provocation”, while assuring that “will defend freedom, democracy and the sovereignty of the territory with concrete actions”.
Likewise, the Ministry reported the incursion of 42 aircraft and eight Chinese military ships in areas around Taiwan this Saturday after 9:00 a.m. local time (1:00 a.m. GMT).
A total of 26 of these planes from China crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a tacitly accepted limit between Beijing and Taipei in recent decades but which Chinese forces have used to exceed in their incursions towards the island for about a year. anus.
The digital headers of the island’s main newspapers, such as the United Daily News or the Liberty Times, do not give great visibility to the maneuvers on their front pages and prefer to dedicate more space to news of a local scope.
Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu declared on the official account of the island’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on X (formerly Twitter) that China “he clearly wants to influence the upcoming presidential election in Taiwan”but that “it will be the Taiwanese citizens who decide, not a thug neighbor”.
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, a territory it considers a “rebel province” since Kuomintang nationalists withdrew there in 1949 after losing the war against the communist army.