Taiwan sends jets, puts forces on alert as China calls new war games ‘powerful punishment’ for island

Taipei, Taiwan — Taiwan dispatched jets and put its missile, naval and land units on alert Thursday following Chinese military exercises around the border. autonomous island democracy where a new president took office this week. ChinaTaiwan’s military said its two-day exercises around Taiwan were punishment for independence-seeking separatist forces.

Beijing claims that Taiwan is part of Chinese national territory and the People’s Liberation Army sends warships and warplanes into the Taiwan Strait and other areas around the island almost daily to weaken Taiwan’s defenses. Taiwan and seek to intimidate its people, who strongly support its de facto independence. .

Taiwan stands firm, says China threatens regional peace

“China’s irrational provocation has endangered regional peace and stability,” the island’s defense ministry said. He said Taiwan would not seek any conflict but “would not hesitate to avoid one.”

“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,” the ministry statement said.

In his inauguration speech on Monday, Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te called on Beijing to end its military intimidation and pledged “not to give in or provoke” the leadership of the mainland’s Communist Party.

A Taiwan Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter jet prepares to take off from an air base in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, May 23, 2024, as Chinese warships and aircraft surround the democratic island in the middle of military exercises.


“In the face of external challenges and threats, we will continue to uphold the values ​​of freedom and democracy,” Lai told sailors and top security officials on Thursday, while visiting a maritime base in Taoyuan, just south of the capital Taipei.

Without directly referring to Chinese moves, he said international society was concerned about Taiwan’s security, likely reflecting its key role in the supply chains of the most advanced computer chips as well as its role as a democratic bulwark against Chinese attempts to assert control over Asia. -Peaceful.

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

The main opposition Nationalist Party, generally considered pro-China, also condemned Beijing’s actions.

The nationalists, also known as the KMT, called on “the opposite side of the (Taiwan Strait) to exercise restraint, stop unnecessary maneuvers, avoid conflict across the Taiwan Strait, and maintain and cherish the results of peace and development between the parties. “

Thursday’s tensions came amid protests outside Taiwan’s parliament against attempts by the nationalists and their allies to use their slim majority to force the passage of laws that could affect military budgets and judicial and other key appointments. .

China calls drills ‘powerful punishment’ for Taiwan

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

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

The PLA also released a map of the planned exercise area, which surrounds the main island of Taiwan at five different points, as well as places like Matsu and Kinmen, remote islands closer to the Chinese mainland than Taiwan.

China’s 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 island groups of Kinmen and Matsu, just off China’s coast .

How Taiwan faces the Chinese threat to its democracy


While China called the exercises a sanction for Taiwan’s election result, the Democratic Progressive Party has now led the island’s government for more than a decade, although the pro-Chinese Nationalist Party won a majority of a seat in parliament. As CBS News Senior Foreign Correspondent, Elizabeth Palmer reported before the voteChina had characterized the last Taiwanese elections as a choice between peace and war.

Before Lai’s victory, the Chinese government had declared that it would “continue to follow the wrong path of bringing about ‘independence'”, taking Taiwan “further and further away from peace and prosperity, and further closer to war and decline.”

US says China’s actions are expected, but must be condemned

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

“There’s no surprise that every time there’s an action that highlights Taiwan in the international sphere, the Chinese feel obligated to make some sort of statement,” Sklenka told the National Press Club d Australia in the capital Canberra, in reference to the presidential inauguration on Monday.

How the US Navy is preparing for possible Chinese aggression against Taiwan


“Just because we expect this behavior doesn’t mean we shouldn’t condemn it, and we should condemn it publicly. And that has to come from us, but it also has to come, I believe, from the countries in the region.” It’s one thing when the United States condemns the Chinese, but it has a much more powerful effect, I believe, when it comes from countries in that region,” Sklenka added.

Japan’s top envoy spoke 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, we have close economic relations and people-to-people exchanges, and it is our valuable friend,” Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa told reporters in Washington, where she spoke met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

She said the two ministers discussed Taiwan and the importance of the Taiwan Strait, one of the world’s most important waterways, to remaining peaceful.

Japan’s increased military presence on the small island of Ishigaki is frustrating residents.


The confrontation over Taiwan has already had a impact on the Japanese people. In April, CBS News’ Palmer visited a small island at the southern end of the Japanese island chain, Ishigaki, which has for years been a relaxing oasis surrounded by tranquil turquoise sea.

But faced with tensions with China and the imminent threat posed by Kim Jong Un’s regime in nuclear-armed North Korea, the Japanese army has installed a missile base in the middle of the island, where around 600 soldiers and a battery of powerful missiles and launchers are now positioned. Many locals believe the base casts a shadow of impending conflict on their island paradise, but the base commander told CBS News it’s necessary, given the security challenges Japan faces.


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