China Surrounds Taiwan in Large-Scale Military Exercise: “Powerful Punishment”

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China Surrounds Taiwan in Large-Scale Military Exercise: “Powerful Punishment”

China launched a massive military exercise around Taiwan on Thursday, surrounding the independent island nation in a “powerful punishment” for the tiny democracy’s recent “separatist acts.” China’s planned two-day drills, which involve fighter jets, naval vessels, and live ammunition, come just days after Taiwan swore in new President Lai Ching-te, a “dangerous separatist” who campaigned on Taiwanese independence from the People’s Republic.

According to China’s state-run media, navy ships and aircraft from the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered the Taiwan Strait at approximately 7:45 a.m. local time, then took up additional positions to the north, east, and south of the island. Other components of the operation, dubbed Joint Sword-2024A, will focus on the disputed islands of Kinmen, Matsu, Wuqiu, and Dongyin in the East China Sea.

Per PLA spokesman Li XI, the exercise will “focus on joint sea-air combat-readiness patrol, joint seizure of comprehensive battlefield control, and joint precision strikes on key targets.” He further indicated that the drills “involve the patrol of vessels and planes closing in on areas around the island of Taiwan and integrated operations inside and outside the island chain to test the joint real combat capabilities of the forces of the command.”

Chinese authorities also ominously suggested that the military action will serve as a “strong punishment for the separatist acts of ‘Taiwan independence’ forces and a stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces.”

(AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
(AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

In one of his first statements in office following his inauguration on Monday, new Taiwanese President Lai Ching-te called on China to “cease their political and military intimidations against Taiwan, and share with Taiwan the global responsibility of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, as well as the greater region, and to ensure the world is free from the fear of war.” Prior to his election, Lai, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party, was an outspoken supporter of Taiwan’s independence, stating that “Taiwan is already a sovereign, independent country called the Republic of China.”

Following the arrival of PLA forces in Taiwanese waters, the island’s Defense Ministry called the aggression “irrational provocations and actions that undermine regional peace and stability.”

“We stand by with firm will and restraint,” the Defense Ministry said. “We seek no conflicts, but we will not shy away from one. We have the confidence to safeguard our national security.”

Reports indicate that Taiwan has scrambled its own jets and put naval and land units on standby in response to the Chinese approach, and Taiwan’s Coast Guard has already warned a Chinese vessel to change course.

These drills mark the latest escalation in hostilities between China and Tawain as the communist state attempts to reestablish control of the self-governing island. In recent years, flyovers by Chinese jets, excursions probing Taiwanese waters, and direct threats from Beijing have been commonplace, suggesting that China is preparing for an eminent takeover of the country.