For two days, China’s military executed massive war exercises near Taiwan, which focus on seizing control and dominating strategic locations.

These drills were initiated to retaliate against Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-te, or Dr William Lai.

Conducted in the Taiwan Strait and areas controlled by Taiwan near China’s coast, these exercises began just three days after Lai’s inauguration.

China has been especially critical of Lai for his “anti-Beijing” speech, in which he urged Beijing to stop its threats and said the two sides of the strait were “not subordinate to each other”.

In response, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called Lai “disgraceful”.

The Eastern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army confirmed their drills to assess their control capability.

Beijing, which parted ways with Taipei after a civil war 75 years ago, sees the island as a rebellious province that must eventually reunite with the mainland.

As the exercises began, Beijing stated they were a stern response to the separatist actions of “Taiwan independence” groups.

According to Chinese state media, China deployed numerous fighter jets armed with live missiles and simulated attacks on important military targets using warships.

These exercises, named “Joint Sword – 2024A”, aim to test their collective ability to seize control. China has always kept the option of using force to assert control over Taiwan.

They even shared an animated video on WeChat showing missiles hitting cities like Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Hualien.

Image: X (@globaltimesnews)

The video ends with a message in traditional Chinese characters (characters used by citizens of Taiwan), warning of “sacred weapons to kill independence”.

Taiwanese Government Condemns Drills

Taiwan’s military has responded by closely monitoring and tracking Chinese activities. The defense ministry shared images of F-16 fighter jets armed with live missiles patrolling the skies.

They also revealed images of Chinese coast guard vessels and Jiangdao-class corvettes involved in the exercises, though the exact locations were not disclosed.

As of 6AM on Friday, 24 May 2024, the ministry reported detecting 49 Chinese military aircraft, 19 navy vessels, and seven coast guard ships.

Among the aircraft, 28 crossed the strait’s median line, an unofficial boundary that China does not acknowledge. The closest Chinese aircraft approached within 40 nautical miles (74KM) of Keelung, a northern city and navy base, as shown on a map provided by the ministry.

Reportedly, Lai has repeatedly proposed talks with China, but his offers have been turned down. He insists that only the people of Taiwan should determine their fate and rejects Beijing’s claims of sovereignty.

Taiwan is well-accustomed to China’s military intimidations, and the recent drills haven’t caused much concern on the island, with daily life continuing as usual.

On China’s tightly controlled Weibo platform, “Eastern Theatre” was trending, with most comments expressing support for the exercises. Another topic of discussion was “the return of Taiwan”.

After losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists in 1949, the Republic of China government retreated to Taiwan. While Taiwan still goes by the name Republic of China, only a dozen countries, mostly small nations like Palau and Guatemala, formally recognize it.

In a commentary, China’s People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, emphasized the unity of the Chinese people and warned against separatist activities in Taiwan.

While the recent drills were smaller in scale than those in 2022, they were anticipated by Taiwanese and foreign officials, albeit with concerns about potential accidents or misunderstandings.

Analysts and diplomats noted that Beijing’s message was clear: it could swiftly blockade Taiwan if needed to rein in Lai.

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