The Chinese military conducted drills around Taiwan on Saturday, sending a strong message in response to what it claims as collusion between separatists and foreign forces, according to the country’s defense ministry. This comes just days after Taiwan’s Vice President, William Lai, made a diplomatic visit to Paraguay with stops in San Francisco and New York City.
China’s ruling Communist Party considers democratic Taiwan as part of its territory and rejects its right to engage in foreign relations. In a statement, a spokesperson for China’s Eastern Theater Command mentioned that the military exercises focused on testing the coordination and combat capabilities of their vessels and planes in order to assert control over air and sea spaces.
The drills, which took place in the waters and airspace to the north and southwest of Taiwan, served as a warning against provocations from pro-Taiwan independence forces and foreign entities. The command even released footage online showcasing soldiers in action, along with military boats and planes.
According to Taiwan’s defense ministry, 42 Chinese military aircraft were detected starting from 9 a.m. on Saturday, with 26 of them crossing the midline of the Taiwan Strait – an unofficial boundary acting as a buffer between the island and mainland China. The ministry also revealed that eight vessels participated in the joint combat patrol. In response, Taiwan promptly deployed its own aircraft and vessels while activating land-based missile systems. The situation is being closely monitored.
In a separate statement, Taiwan’s defense ministry strongly condemned the “irrational, provocative moves” exhibited by China. It reassured its commitment to safeguarding national security and emphasized preparedness in the face of threats from the Chinese army. A video posted on Facebook showcased past military drills aimed at countering what Taiwan perceives as China’s militaristic mentality.
These recent actions indicate the escalating tensions between China and Taiwan, further fueling concerns about potential military conflict in the region.
Taiwan’s Ongoing Tensions with China
Taiwan and China split in 1949 following a civil war that ended with the ruling Communist Party in control of the mainland. Despite its independence, Beijing views Taiwan as a renegade province and has vowed to reclaim it by force if necessary. The latest developments indicate that tensions between Taiwan and China are escalating once again.
Accusations of Collusion between Taiwan and the U.S.
According to China’s official Xinhua news agency, an unnamed official from China’s Taiwan Work Office has strongly denounced what they perceive to be collusion between Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the United States. This denouncement comes in response to several recent events, including stopovers in the U.S., an interview with news outlet Bloomberg, and a meeting with U.S. officials in Paraguay. The Chinese official alleges that Taiwan’s ruling party leader, Lai, used “Taiwan independence” rhetoric during the interview.
The Consequences of Lai’s Actions
The Chinese official goes on to accuse Lai of using his U.S. stopovers to betray Taiwan’s interests in order to gain political advantage in the upcoming Taiwanese elections. They describe Lai as a “troublemaker” who is pushing Taiwan dangerously close to war. It is worth noting that Lai is the presidential candidate for his party in the upcoming 2024 election.
In response to these accusations, Taiwan’s foreign minister, Joseph Wu, took to the X platform to express his views on China’s interference in their upcoming national election. He asserted that it is the right of the Taiwanese citizens to determine their own future and denounced China’s attempts to shape their election outcome. Wu attached the statement from the Taiwan Work Office and the Xinhua report to emphasize his position.
Escalation of Tensions
The recent military drills conducted by China are seen as a response to former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year. These drills involved missile firings near the island, disrupting trade lanes in the Taiwan Strait and forcing flight reroutes. Furthermore, Chinese forces held combat readiness drills in the air and waters surrounding Taiwan following President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with current U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in April.
The situation between Taiwan and China remains tense, with both sides engaging in political posturing and military maneuvers. It is evident that Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election is becoming a focal point for these tensions. The future of the relationship between Taiwan and China hangs in the balance as each side seeks to assert its influence and protect its interests.