China announced military drills would ‘simultaneously organize patrols and advances around Taiwan island, shaping an all-round encirclement and deterrence posture’
China’s military has recently begun three days of military drills aimed at rehearsing the encirclement of Taiwan. The move, which Beijing described as a “stern warning” to the island’s government, began just hours after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a trip to the U.S.
The operation, named “United Sharp Sword,” was launched shortly after Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a visit to the U.S.
According to Taiwan’s Defence Ministry, 71 Chinese military planes and nine ships crossed the unofficial dividing line between Chinese and Taiwanese territory, known as the Taiwan Strait median line.
Reuters reported that one of the ships fired a round from its deck as it sailed near Pingtan island, which is China’s closest point to Taiwan.
Chinese state media announced that the military drills would “simultaneously organize patrols and advances around Taiwan island, shaping an all-round encirclement and deterrence posture.” The statement also revealed that China’s military had deployed “long-range rocket artillery, naval destroyers, missile boats, air force fighters, bombers, jammers, and refuellers” in the exercise.
Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state with its own constitution and leaders. However, China views the island as a breakaway province that will eventually be brought under Beijing’s control – by force if necessary. China’s President Xi Jinping has said that “reunification” with Taiwan “must be fulfilled”.
While China frequently holds military exercises around Taiwan, the “encirclement” rehearsals are being seen as a response to President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday. In a meeting with a U.S. congressional delegation in Taipei led by House foreign affairs committee chairman Michael McCaul, President Tsai declared that her government would continue working with the U.S. and other democracies as the island faces “continued authoritarian expansionism” from China.
In response to China’s exercises, Taiwan’s defense ministry announced that it would respond “with a calm, rational, and serious attitude” based on the principle of “not escalating conflicts, nor causing disputes to defend our national sovereignty and security.”
Despite China’s show of force, residents of Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, seemed unperturbed. One resident remarked that many Taiwanese have become used to China’s drills, while another said that if an invasion were to occur, there would be no escape.
Last August, Beijing conducted almost a week of drills around Taiwan after, Nancy Pelosi, visited Taipei. The exercises were China’s largest show of force in years, including the deployment of fighter jets and warships, as well as the firing of ballistic missiles.
The situation in the Taiwan Strait remains complex, and tensions between China and Taiwan have been high for many years. It is essential that all parties exercise restraint and seek a peaceful resolution of their differences through dialogue and negotiation. The international community must also play its part in promoting stability in the region and preventing the escalation of conflicts.