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Bangkok Post – China organizes mock missile attacks on Taiwan and planes with real missiles are used in drills

This image taken on Thursday shows Chinese coast guard ships sailing at an undisclosed location in waters around Taiwan.

This image taken on Thursday shows Chinese coast guard ships sailing at an undisclosed location in waters around Taiwan.

BEIJING/TAIPEI – China conducted missile strike drills and sent fighter jets with real missiles along with bombers on Friday, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said, as part of exercises Beijing said were launched to punish to the new president of Taiwan, Lai Chingte.

The bombers set up several attack formations in waters east of Taiwan, carrying out simulated attacks in coordination with warships, he added, as China tested its ability to “seize power” and control key areas of Taiwan.

The two days of exercises in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan-controlled island groups off the Chinese coast, which a Taiwanese official said also included drills for bombing foreign ships, began just three days after Lai took office. on Monday. Taiwan has condemned China’s actions.

China considers democratically governed Taiwan its own territory and denounces Lai as a “separatist.” He sharply criticized his inauguration speech, in which he urged Beijing to end its threats and stated that the two sides of the strait were “not subordinate to each other.”

The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command said the exercises, dubbed “Joint Sword – 2024A,” aimed to “test the ability to jointly seize power, launch joint attacks and occupy key areas.”

“This action is completely reasonable, legal and necessary to combat the arrogance of ‘Taiwan independence’ and deter interference and intervention by external forces,” said Wu Qian, spokesperson for China’s Defense Ministry.

First island chain

A senior Taiwan security official said Reuters that several Chinese bombers carried out simulated attacks on foreign ships near the eastern end of the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines, practicing how to take “full control” of the areas west of the so-called first island chain.

The first island chain refers to the area extending from Japan through Taiwan, the Philippines and Borneo, enclosing the coastal seas of China.

The official, who spoke anonymously given the sensitivity of the situation, said several Chinese coast guard ships also carried out “harassment” drills off Taiwan’s east coast, including mock inspections of civilian ships.

China’s coast guard said it had conducted “law enforcement drills” on Friday in waters east of Taiwan, focusing on verification and identification, warning and repulsion training.

The Chinese ship Nantong carried out combat readiness patrols and practical exercise missions in the Taiwan Strait, followed by the Taiwanese ship Zheng He at 0.6 nautical miles. closed TV circuit saying.

A public relations officer for the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet said it was paying attention to “all activities” in the Indo-Pacific and takes the responsibility of deterring aggression in the region “very seriously.”

Taiwan and the United States do not have an official diplomatic relationship, as Washington formally recognizes Beijing, but it is required by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself and is the island’s most important international backer.

A large screen shows news footage of a map of military exercises conducted by the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in five areas around the island of Taiwan, in Beijing, China, on Thursday. (Photo: Reuters)

Speaking in Taipei, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Lin Chia-lung said the island would not succumb to pressure.

“We will not make any concessions because of this Chinese military exercise, because it affects the development of democracy in Taiwan,” he said.

‘Sacred weapons’

The Chinese theater command on Friday showed an animated video on its WeChat social media account of missiles launched at Taiwan from land, air and sea, which then hit the cities of Taipei, Kaohsiung and Hualien in fireballs. closed TV circuit He later said China staged mock missile attacks on Taiwan using dozens of missiles.

“Sacred weapons to end independence,” read the words in red, written in the traditional Chinese characters used by Taiwan, at the end of the animation.

Taiwan’s military has been mobilized to monitor and track Chinese forces.

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry on Friday released photos of F-16s, armed with real missiles, patrolling the skies.

It also showed photographs of Chinese coast guard vessels and Chinese Jiangdao-class corvettes, although it did not say exactly where the images were taken.

The ministry said that as of 6 a.m. (2200 GMT) on Friday, it had detected 49 Chinese military aircraft, 19 navy aircraft and seven coast guard ships. Of the planes, 28 crossed the median line of the strait, which once served as an unofficial barrier although China says it does not recognize it.

The closest Chinese plane to the coast of Taiwan was 40 nautical miles (74 kilometers) from the northern city and naval base of Keelung, according to a map provided by the ministry.

Lai has repeatedly offered talks with China but has been rebuffed. He says only the people of Taiwan can decide its future and rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

Taiwan is accustomed to military threats from China, and the latest exercises have not caused any undue alarm on the island, where life continues as normal.

Taiwanese media has covered the drills, but has also devoted much time to the ongoing drama over contested parliamentary reforms that have brought thousands of people to the streets in protest.

On China’s highly regulated social media site Weibo, “Eastern Theatre” was the most searched item, with most comments supporting the drills. Another hot topic was “the return of Taiwan.”

Analysts, regional diplomats and senior Taiwanese officials said the scale of the drills so far was smaller than similar exercises in 2022 and that they were widely expected by Taiwanese and foreign officials, but they still posed the risk of accidents or miscalculations. .

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