China begins military drills in Taiwan Strait

BEIJING AFP China began military exercises around Taiwan on Saturday. It was called a “stern warning” to the island’s government following talks between Taiwan’s president and the US House Speaker.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command said in a statement that the three-day operation (reportedly including an encirclement exercise on Taiwan) would run through Monday.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen immediately condemned the exercise, promising to work with “the United States and other like-minded countries” in the face of “continued authoritarian expansionism.”

PLA spokesman Shi Yin said China’s war games would send planes, ships and personnel “to the maritime area and airspace of the Taiwan Strait, to the north and south coasts of the island, and to the east of the island.”

Later, according to a report by state-run CCTV, “the task force will patrol and advance around the island of Taiwan while establishing an all-round encirclement and deterrence posture.”

The report detailed the types of weapons China is speeding up, including “long-range rocket artillery, naval destroyers, missile boats, Air Force fighters, bombers, jammers and refueling tankers.”

Taiwan’s defense ministry released a video showing soldiers practicing anti-aircraft missile launchers, fighter take-offs and other military preparations.

The video includes surveillance of the Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong as it sailed in waters south of Taiwan earlier this week.

The 75-second video, with English subtitles, ended with the caption: “We do not seek escalation or conflict, but we stand firm, rational and serious, and defend our territory and sovereignty.”

Real picture

Monday’s exercise will include live-fire exercises off the coast of China’s Fujian province, which faces Taiwan, local maritime authorities said.

The operation follows a meeting in California between President Tsai Beijing and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

China regards democratic and autonomous Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to occupy it by force if necessary.

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