China has begun three days of military exercises around Taiwan, in what it called a “stern warning” to the self-ruled island’s government following a meeting between it’s President and the United States House speaker.
Dubbed “United Sharp Sword”, the three-day operation — which state media said includes rehearsing an encirclement of Taiwan — will run until Monday, the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said in a statement.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen immediately denounced the drills, pledging to work with “the US and other like-minded countries” in the face of “continued authoritarian expansionism”.
China’s war games will send planes, ships and personnel into “the maritime areas and air space of the Taiwan Strait, off the northern and southern coasts of the island, and to the island’s east”, said Shi Yin, a PLA spokesman.
A later report from state broadcaster CCTV said: “The task force will simultaneously organise patrols and advances around Taiwan island, shaping an all-round encirclement and deterrence posture.”
The report went on to detail the type of weaponry China was putting through its paces, including “long-range rocket artillery, naval destroyers, missile boats, air force fighters, bombers, jammers and refuellers”.
Taiwan’s defence ministry released a video showing soldiers loading anti-aircraft missile launchers, fighter jets taking off, and other military preparedness exercises.
The footage included surveillance of China’s Shandong aircraft carrier, which sailed through waters south of Taiwan earlier this week.
The 75-second clip, which included English subtitles, ended with a caption saying: “We seek neither escalation nor conflict, but we remain steadfast, rational, and serious to react and defend our territory and sovereignty.”
Taiwan’s defence ministry said eight Chinese warships and 42 fighter jets were detected around the island on Saturday, as China announced three days of military drills.
The ministry said the incursion included 29 jets that crossed into Taiwan’s southwestern Air Defence Identification Zone, the highest number in a single day this year, according to data collected by AFP.
The show of force comes a day after President Tsai Ing-wen landed in Taipei after meeting US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in Los Angeles.
Tsai said Saturday that Taiwan has “faced continued authoritarian expansionism” in recent years, making cooperation between democratic nations even more vital.
“We will continue to work with the US and other like-minded countries to jointly defend the values of freedom and democracy,” she said.
The defence ministry said the incursions were detected between 6 and 11 am local time (2200 GMT to 0300 GMT).
Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council called for China to “exercise self-restraint”.
“The Chinese Communist Party continues to intimidate Taiwan militarily to undermine peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait as well as in the region,” the Council said.
“Taiwan will not back down or succumb, and we will not provoke or act rashly,” it added.
The ADIZ is not the same as Taiwan’s territorial airspace, including a far greater area that overlaps with part of China’s own ADIZ and even some of the mainland.