‘Strong punishment’: China begins two days of military exercises in Taiwan | military news


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

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

State news agency as well as in 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 a “strong punishment for the separatist acts of the ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.” and a stern warning against interference and provocation by external forces,” according to a post on China’s Weibo messaging platform.

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

Beijing has not ruled out the use of force to achieve its goal of unification and has reacted angrily to the inauguration of Lai, a man it considers a “troublemaker” and a “separatist.”

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said it had put its military on “high alert” in response to China’s exercises, which it described as “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 People’s Republic of China evidently decided to wait until he gave his inaugural address and then determine its response,” he told Al Jazeera, referring to China by the initials of its formal name. “It is clear that Beijing strongly opposes what they see as an attempt to develop a comprehensive ‘Taiwan independence’ narrative aimed at altering the nature of cross-Strait relations. “I expect them to implement a series of military, political and economic measures in the coming weeks and months.”

William Lai Ching-te during his inauguration ceremony.  On the wall is a flag of Taiwan and a portrait of Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Republic of China.  with large displays of pink orchids on either side.  Lai bows while receiving a document from an official.
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, he said that “the Republic of China, Taiwan, is a sovereign and independent nation whose sovereignty resides in the people” and stressed that his government would make no concessions on democracy and freedoms. .

He called on Beijing to “stop 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 lashed out.

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

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

In an editorial on Wednesday, state tabloid Global Times described Lai’s first speech as president as “vile behavior” and claimed his speech was “full of hostility and provocation, lies and deception.”

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

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

He added that the latest military exercises were being carried out “under false pretenses” and highlighted China’s “hegemonic nature.”

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

“This round of military exercises is codenamed ‘Joint Sword-2024A’,” he noted. “The ‘A’ suffix suggests there may be future B rounds, and possibly C. Beijing is flexing its muscles immediately after Lai’s presidential inauguration to unequivocally signal Beijing’s discontent. But this is the “sign”. The real ‘punishment’ is yet to come.”

China sees the DPP as “separatists” bent on independence. Tsai and Lai, whose victory marked a historic third term for the DPP, say Taiwan’s people should be the ones to choose their future.

With reporting from Erin Hale in Taiwan.

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