(Bloomberg) –China held a second day of military drills around Taiwan, with multiple exercises involving aircraft and ships, after the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, returned from a visit to the US.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement that on Sunday it detected 58 aircraft from China’s People’s Liberation Army and nine warships near Taiwan as of midday, with 31 of the warplanes crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait and entering the southwestern part of the island’s air-defense identification zone.
Warships and warplanes passed over the median line in groups from the north, the center and the south of the strait, according to the statement.
The PLA said Saturday it will hold drills and patrols in airspace and waters on the north, south and east sides of Taiwan from April 8 to 10. Eastern Theater Command spokesman Senior Colonel Shi Yi said in a statement on Saturday that the drills are a “stern warning against Taiwan separatist forces’ collusion with foreign elements.” He didn’t mention Tsai’s visits to New York and Los Angeles, which included meetings with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and other US lawmakers.
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“China’s drills only let the world see it destroys peace,” Taiwan’s vice premier Cheng Wen-tsan told reporters Sunday. “We don’t show weakness. We don’t evade, and we are not afraid. Our policies ensure security of territorial sea. This is our bottom line.”
In a statement late Saturday night, China’s Ministry of Defense said the PLA dispatched several conventional missile brigades, along with some army artillery brigades, under the command of the Eastern Theater. The units conducted simulated strikes on designated targets, according to the statement, with photos and video clips showing launching vehicles moving to positions and missiles being erected.
Beijing had pledged to respond to any meeting between Tsai and McCarthy, calling it a provocation that “damages China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” The latest planned drills appear to be on a smaller scale than exercises held by China after then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year, and didn’t include any imposition of exclusive zones in its airspace and waters.
In August, China announced missile tests and military drills near Taiwan less than an hour after Pelosi landed in Taipei. The PLA also imposed six exclusive zones, banning ships and aircraft from entering.
Beijing’s latest announcement of the military exercises came after French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrapped up a three-day visit to China on Friday. Taiwan’s former leader Ma Ying-jeou also concluded on Friday a historic 12-day tour of China.
China earlier leveled largely symbolic sanctions on Taiwan’s envoy to the US, two think tanks, and the venue that hosted Tsai in California. The Taiwan leader had urged Beijing not to overreact before her departure from Los Angeles on Thursday.
Addressing the media shortly after her plane landed in Taipei on Friday, Tsai said: “We show the world that Taiwan will only be more united when facing pressure and threats. We will never give in because of suppression, and we will never stop exchanges.”
On Saturday, Tsai lauded Taiwan’s stronger relationship with the US in a joint press briefing with US House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul in Taipei. She said Taiwan is looking forward to advance trade ties with the US in addition to boosting security cooperation.
McCaul and his delegation had lunch with Tsai in Taipei, the last stop on their trip to the region. The US lawmakers also met with Vice President Lai Ching-te earlier this week while Tsai was flying back from Los Angeles. McCaul said the US congress is “doing everything we can” to speed up arms sales to Taiwan. “We will provide training for your military, not for war but for peace,” he said.
On Friday evening, China announced that it would hold live-fire exercises in the waters off Fujian province on April 10. The shooting drills were near Pingtan, a county about 130 kilometers (81 miles) from Hsinchu city across the strait in northwestern Taiwan.
Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said in a statement Saturday that China’s incursions in recent years have threatened the regional situation, and using the Taiwan president’s trip as an excuse for drills seriously affects regional peace and stability. The ministry will be on high alert and will defend national security, it said.
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council urged China to exercise self-restraint and not misjudge the situation by escalating tension across the strait and in the region, sabotaging cross-strait ties, according to a statement.
–With assistance from Jacob Gu.
© 2023 Bloomberg L.P.
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