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Beijing launches ‘punishment’ drills around Taiwan

China’s army, navy, rocket and air forces will practice “precision strikes on key targets”

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has kicked off a series of joint exercises around Taiwan designed to serve as a “punishment” and “warning” to separatist forces seeking independence of the island, it announced in a press release on Thursday.

The drills will coordinate the PLA’s army, navy, air force and rocket force in the Taiwan Strait, taking place in several directions around Taiwan and its outlying islands on Thursday and Friday, military spokesperson Li Xi declared.

The exercises will focus on combined sea-air combat-readiness patrol, capture of battlefield control, and joint precision strikes on key targets, Li stated. The drills will practice closing in on areas around Taiwan, as well as operations inside and outside the island chain to test real combat capabilities, he said.

The Chinese military said the exercise is designed to serve as a “strong punishment for the separatist acts of ‘Taiwan independence’ forces,” as well as a “stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces.”


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In response, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry deployed aircraft, navy vessels, and coastal missile systems to monitor the PLA forces, condemning the surprise drills as jeopardizing regional stability.

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Taiwan was the last refuge of the nationalist forces during the Chinese Civil War in the 1940s, and has since remained de facto autonomous, referring to itself as the Republic of China, and allied with the US. Beijing seeks the peaceful reintegration of the island, but makes the provision that it could use military force should Taipei officially declare independence.

In a speech on Monday, the newly-inaugurated Taiwanese president, Lai Ching-te, urged Beijing to “face the reality of the Republic of China’s existence” and “engage in cooperation with the legal government chosen by Taiwan’s people.” He added that Taipei and Beijing are “not subordinate to each other.”

Beijing has slammed the statements as provocative and separatist. Chen Binhua, a spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, accused Lai of “collusion” and acting as a “pawn” to external forces, promising to “counteract and punish them.”

 

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