China conducted military exercises around Taiwan on Saturday, issuing what it referred to as a “serious warning” to separatist elements.
This move was a highly anticipated response to Vice President William Lai’s recent visit to the United States, which drew strong criticism from Taipei.
Lai, who is a leading contender in Taiwan’s upcoming presidential elections, made stopovers in the US and delivered speeches during his visit.
Taiwan, a democratically governed island, is considered by China as part of its territory, despite objections from the Taiwanese government.
China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command announced that joint naval and air combat readiness patrols were taking place around Taiwan.
In response, Taiwan’s defense ministry reported detecting 42 Chinese aircraft and eight ships involved in the drills, prompting the deployment of Taiwanese ships and aircraft.
A significant moment occurred when 26 Chinese aircraft crossed the longstanding unofficial barrier of the median line in the Taiwan Strait.
The Eastern Theatre Command stated that the exercises were focused on ship-aircraft coordination, controlling areas, and anti-submarine drills to evaluate the “actual combat capabilities” of their forces.
Taiwan condemned the exercises, emphasizing its determination to ensure national security.
The government’s Mainland Affairs Council called for Beijing to cease its intimidation tactics and engage in dialogue, asserting Taiwan’s sovereign right to diplomatic interactions with friendly nations.
China’s actions were seen as an attempt to influence Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election by exploiting Lai’s US visit.
However, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu affirmed that the decision rested with the Taiwanese people and not external pressures.
Amid these developments, the United States, South Korea, and Japan deepened defense and economic cooperation, reaffirming the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait for global security and prosperity.
While concerns arise over the scale and intensity of China’s maneuvers, some Taiwanese citizens remain unperturbed by the threats.
The Chinese military’s drills coincide with its distaste for Lai, who has expressed support for Taiwan’s independence in the past, despite his campaign promises to maintain the status quo and pursue dialogues with Beijing.
Overall, China’s military exercises around Taiwan have intensified regional tensions, prompting international scrutiny and diplomatic responses.