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“Strong punishment”: China begins two days of military exercises around Taiwan | Military news

DEVELOPING STORY,

The exercises begin three days after William Lai Ching-te was sworn in as president of the island that China claims as its own.

China has begun two days of military exercises in the water and airspace around the self-ruled island of Taiwan, according to Chinese state media.

The official Xinhua News Agency said the People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command began drills in the Taiwan Strait, north, south and south at 7:45 a.m. (2345 GMT) on Thursday. Eastern Taiwan, as well as in certain areas. around the islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu and Dongyin.

Military spokesman Col. Li Xi said the joint exercises involving the army, navy, air force and rocket force were “severe punishment for the separatist acts of the forces.” Taiwan independence” and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces,” according to a post on Chinese messaging platform Weibo.

The show of force, dubbed Joint Sword-2024A, comes three days after Taiwan’s new president, William Lai Ching-te, was sworn in and called on Beijing to end its “intimidation” of the island, which China considers it its own.

Beijing does not rule out the use of force to achieve its goal of unification and reacted with anger to the inauguration of Lai, a man it considers a “troublemaker” and a “separatist”.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had placed its military on “high alert” in response to the Chinese exercises, which it called “provocations and irrational actions that disrupt regional peace and stability.”

Bonnie Glaser, managing director of the Indo-Pacific program at the US German Marshall Fund, noted that Beijing’s response to Lai’s election victory in January had been relatively muted.

“The PRC has obviously decided to wait until he gives his inaugural speech and then determine his response,” she told Al Jazeera, referring to China by the initials of its official name. “It is clear that Beijing strongly opposes what it sees as an attempt to develop a comprehensive narrative on Taiwan independence with the aim of changing the nature of cross-strait relations. I expect them to implement a series of military, political and economic measures over the coming weeks and months. »

“Strong punishment”: China begins two days of military exercises around Taiwan |  Military news
Lai was sworn in as Taiwan’s new president on Monday (Taiwan Presidential Office via AFP)

In Lai’s first public speech after taking the oath of office, he declared that “the Republic of China, Taiwan, is a sovereign and independent nation whose sovereignty rests with the people” and stressed that his government would not make any concessions on its democracy and its freedoms. .

He called on Beijing to “end its aggression against Taiwan” and strive to “maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and the region.”

“Hegemonic nature”

The next day, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi criticized the situation.

“The horrible acts of Lai Ching-te and others who betray the nation and their ancestors are shameful,” Wang was quoted as saying by China’s Foreign Ministry at a meeting of China’s foreign ministers. Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Kazakhstan.

Nothing can stop China from achieving “reunification” and returning Taiwan “to the motherland,” he added. “All Taiwanese pro-independence separatists will be nailed to the pillar of shame of history.”

In an editorial published Wednesday, the official Global Times tabloid called Lai’s first speech as president “despicable behavior” and said his speech was “filled with hostility and provocation, lies and deception.”

China has stepped up its military activities around the island since Tsai Ing-wen, Lai’s predecessor and also a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was elected to her first presidential term in 2016. She has often taken more aggressive measures as Taiwan officials met with politicians from the United States, a key Taiwan ally, and conducted a series of unprecedented war games after the House Speaker’s visit to the island of the United States, Nancy Pelosi, in August 2022.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said such actions had caused “substantial harm to global peace and stability.”

He adds that the latest military exercises are being carried out “under false pretexts” and underlines the “hegemonic nature” of China.

Wen-ti Sung, a specialist on Taiwan and China and a non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Global China Hub, said there may be more to come.

“This series of military exercises is codenamed ‘Joint Sword-2024A’,” he noted. “The ‘A’ suffix suggests that there may be B or even C towers in the future. Beijing is flexing its muscle immediately after Lai’s presidential inauguration to unequivocally signal its discontent. But this is the “signal”. The real “punishment” is yet to come.”

China considers the DPP to be “separatists” hungry for independence. Tsai and Lai, whose victory marked a historic third term for the DPP, say it is up to the people of Taiwan to choose their future.

With reporting from Erin Hale in Taiwan.

News Source : www.aljazeera.com
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