Exercises in China: Taiwan puts missile, naval and land units on alert

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan alerted fighter jets and put missile, naval and land units on alert Thursday because of Chinese military drills around the self-governing island democracy, where a new president took office this week.

The Chinese military said the two-day drills around Taiwan were punishment for separatist forces seeking independence. Beijing claims the island is part of Chinese territory, and the People’s Liberation Army sends warships and warplanes almost daily into the Taiwan Strait and other areas around the island to weaken Taiwan’s defenses and intimidate the population, which is firmly behind de facto independence.

China’s “irrational provocation has endangered peace and stability in the region,” the island’s defense ministry said. It said Taiwan would not seek conflict but would also “not shy away from it.”

“This pretext for conducting military exercises not only does not contribute to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, but also shows its hegemonic nature at its core,” the ministry said in a statement.

In his inaugural speech on Monday, Taiwan President Lai Ching-te called on Beijing to do so End military intimidation and promised “neither to give in to nor to provoke” the Communist Party leadership on the mainland.

Lai has said he seeks dialogue with Beijing while maintaining Taiwan’s current status and avoiding conflicts that could drag in the island’s main ally, the United States, and other regional partners such as Japan and Australia.

The People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command said on its official Weibo account that the land, naval and air exercises around Taiwan are intended to test the PLA units’ naval and air capabilities, as well as their joint strike capabilities to hit targets and obtain to test control of the battlefield.

“This is also a severe punishment for the separatist forces seeking ‘independence’ and a serious warning to external forces against interference and provocation,” the statement said.

The PLA also released a map of the planned exercise area, which surrounds Taiwan’s main island at five different points, as well as locations such as Matsu and Kinmen, offshore islands that are closer to mainland China than Taiwan.

The Chinese Coast Guard also said in a statement that it had organized a fleet to conduct law enforcement exercises near two islands near the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen and Matsu archipelagos, just off the Chinese coast.

While China used the exercises as punishment for Taiwan’s election resultsThe Democratic Progressive Party has governed the island for more than a decade, although the pro-Chinese Nationalist Party only has a one-seat majority in parliament.

Speaking in Australia, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Stephen Sklenka, deputy commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, called on countries in the Asia-Pacific region to condemn the Chinese military exercises.

“It is no surprise that in an action that highlights Taiwan in the international sphere, the Chinese feel compelled to make some kind of statement,” Sklenka told the National Press Club of Australia in the capital Canberra, referring to the president’s inauguration on Monday.

“Just because we expect this behavior doesn’t mean we shouldn’t condemn it, and we need to condemn it publicly. And it has to come from us, but I believe it also has to come from the nations in the region. It’s one thing for the United States to condemn the Chinese, but I believe it has a far stronger impact when it comes from nations in this region,” Sklenka added.

Japan’s top envoy made the remarks during his visit to the United States, saying Japan and Taiwan share values ​​and principles including freedom, democracy, fundamental rights and the rule of law.

“(Taiwan) is our extremely important partner with whom we maintain close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges, and it is our valuable friend,” Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters in Washington, where she held talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

She said the two ministers discussed Taiwan and the importance of peacefully maintaining the Taiwan Strait, one of the world’s most important shipping waterways.


Associated Press reporters Rod McGuirk in Melbourne, Australia, and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to this report.


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